by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr
To be published by Little, Brown BFYR
on December 24, 2013
Source: Thanks to Little, Brown for approving me for an e-ARC on Netgalley.
Summary from Goodreads: It's time to meet your new roomie! When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room. As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.My take: Roomies chronicles the cyber-relationship between two girls assigned to be freshman roommates at Berkeley: Elizabeth ("E.B.") and Lauren. The two begin corresponding early in the summer, first about dorm room business and then, slowly, about lots of other things too: their relationships, family problems, insecurities and more.
I love YA books that take place the summer before college. It's such a momentous summer, a time when you're saying goodbye to your old life and embarking upon a new adventure. A time when you're poised awkwardly between childhood and adulthood. A time when you are about to be forced to share a teeny-tiny room with a complete and total stranger. I loved the idea of taking this excitement and uncertainty and then adding in the uncertainty and awkwardness of an online relationship. Right off, the two girls get off to a rocky start in their emailing. Then there's the "how much do I share?" question. The "will I regret sharing once I meet this person in real life?" issue. The "OMG I really regret oversharing…."
I'm not a huge fan of stories told in letters, emails, poems, texts, and such. Luckily for me, Roomies was told through both emails and prose, as the girls correspond and also take turns narrating in first person. Roomies is also a collaboration by two YA authors. As I've read one book by Tara Altebrando (The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life) and all of Sara Zarr's books, the first thing I did was try to figure out who wrote what. At first I was convinced that Tara wrote E.B. and Sara wrote Lauren, but after a while I wasn't so sure.
Roomies did a great job of balancing the girls' online correspondence with what was going on in their real lives. Both E. B and Lauren are embarking on new romantic relationships in real life, and each is trying to figure out if that new relationship is just a summer fling or something with more long-term potential. All the respective parents (except the dad of Lauren's crush) are pretty awful, which creates additional problems for the girls. One parent-related plot twist struck me as improbable, but there was another that I loved because it nicely encapsulated some of the sticky situations that can arise when virtual friendship extends into the real world.
I really enjoyed Roomies. It's contemporary YA that's fun to read but also that manages to touch on a lot of interesting questions about communication and friendship -- both real and virtual.
I'll be giving an ARC of Roomies away tomorrow on Freebie Friday, so be sure to stop by!
You can check out the first few chapters of Roomies right here!
And check out my list of other YA books that take place during the summer before freshman year.