Roomies – Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr

Roomies – Tara Altebrando & Sara ZarrTitle: Roomies by Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando
Publishing Info: December 24, 2013 by Little, Brown
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 1, 2013

    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.
National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.


ROOMIES was near perfection. This is everything I’ve been looking for in YA and NA and even crossing over into a little of both. My first reaction to the book was really how much I loved that one: it alternates POVs between the two girls and two: that it stays almost strictly in the “in between” time between high school and college. We get to see how both of these girls’ lives changed in that summer before leaving for college which I feel often gets glossed over and overlooked.

I don’t know how ROOMIES would have turned out if we had two POVs written by one author, but I will say that I’m really, really glad that both Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr each got to tell their own story, but together at the same time. I think they brought an original voice to each girl and such authenticity to each voice as well. I really felt like I got to know each girl and really felt invested in each of their stories.
I really liked the emails in every chapter. The two girls communicate almost exclusively through emails so we get their stories together strung throughout their own personal stories at home. I felt like this was a perfect way to bring everything together while still giving each girl their own time and spotlight so the reader could get to know them both together and apart.

Whereas other early reviews have said how much they related to the book because they went through the same thing, I actually didn’t quite have that same connection. Well, I kind of did. For those of you who don’t know me as well, you probably don’t know that I actually went to a community college for two years and then transferred to a university my junior year. I skipped the whole dorm process, having a stranger for a roommate (well, for the most part — that’s an entirely different and longer story), and went straight to living in an apartment so for me, ROOMIES was absolutely still relatable but it wasn’t an “OMG, this was my life” deal. I guess what I’m trying to say with all this long-windedness is that regardless of how closely your experience is/was to EB and Lauren’s, ROOMIES is extremely enjoyable and a very personal experience. Even people who haven’t gone away to college I’m sure can still relate to these girls as well — graduating from high school and other friends moving away, leaving home for the first time, first loves, family issues. ROOMIES really has it all!

Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr totally stuck gold with ROOMIES. I love every character and really felt like each one — from the main characters to their love interests, their parents, even down to Lauren’s younger siblings — really felt like a real person to me. The situations that each girl goes through, the gamut of emotions and first-time experiences — everything was just done just right. I’m really excited for everyone to get their hands on ROOMIES, especially the “new adults” and twenty-somethings like myself because I feel like it will really hit home and root itself as a favorite for many!


Lauren // Character Obsessions: Spending time with her family, working, taking care of her siblings, finding some quiet alone time.
I loved Lauren. She felt so level-headed and really dedicated to her family which I really, really admired. She’s one of those teenagers who has really given up a lot to help out with her family from day to day and help take care of her younger siblings. She lost a lot of “typical” childhood and teenage experiences because she was acting almost like a parent instead of kid, but through it all, she’s enjoyed the experience and never resented how much she helps out. It’s really interesting to see how different Lauren’s background is from EB’s and my heart totally went out to her when she was denied a single room at college and started off rocky with her new roomie.
Elizabeth (“EB”) // Character Obsessions: Going to the beach, living up her last summer, boys, her cell phone, preparing an awesome dorm room.
I feel like EB was more of a “typical” teenager in the sense that her focus was more on connecting with her friends before leaving for school. Whereas Lauren is totally dedicated to her family, EB’s parents are separated — her dad living all the way on the west coast — and EB’s life in New Jersey with her mom is driving her crazy. She can’t wait to leave home and start her great college adventure. She’s quite the opposite of Lauren in many ways, but there’s still a lot of common ground for the two girls. It was really interesting to see how their different backgrounds really shaped their lives and the way they viewed their future living situation.


Kept Me Hooked On: College stories. I loved that ROOMIES was actually the summer before college because I feel like that time is usually lumped into the college experience and I would never have thought to form the book like it was. I loved being able to relate to each of these girls and how hard it can be to figure out how to get along with a roommate even before you meet them!
Left Me Wanting More: College stories! I gobbled this book up. It definitely left me with a satisfied feeling and left me wanting more and more “new adult” books about going away to college or college experiences. I’m always looking for more!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is a really special book, folks. I know when it comes out, I’m buying it for my shelves. I want this book in my life and maybe I’ll trust someone enough to loan it out to them. So long as they don’t harm it. Nah, I’ll just buy them their own copy!



(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Fangirl   Just One Day

Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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13 thoughts on “Roomies – Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr

  1. Alexa S.

    I am seriously really looking forward to grabbing a copy of this book! There’s something magical and life-changing about that summer between high school and college, and it sounds like these authors captured that moment in life quite well. So glad to hear that you loved it!

  2. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I LOVE college stories. I just graduated two years ago and that may be a big reason why. I went through the whole dorm room thing with a stranger as a roommate so I can’t wait to see how this story plays out. Plus, I love books that have different forms of narration like emails, text messages, letters etc. They are fun and I feel like I get an inside scoop on the characters. Great review! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Amanda

    I’ve stayed away from this book because I never really went through the roomie process either but if you liked it without that experience then I’m going to add it to my to-read list! I also really want to hear that long story about a strange roommate 🙂

  4. Pam@YA Escape from Reality

    So glad you really liked this one, I think I’m reading this one next. I love the premise and the idea of the e-mail exchanges. I didn’t have this experience either since I knew my college roommate, but I did live with a couple of people I didn’t know my sophomore year and it was definitely interesting, to say the least. I do love college stories!

  5. Estelle

    I got to work this morning + the copy I bought for a friend was sitting on my desk and I was SO tempted to steal it for myself. I say that’s a good sign. I’m so glad you wrote about connecting to this story even if you didn’t live this time period like they did. Yay for that.

    I must read this again soon. I’m working on my end of the year survey and I know there must be quotes I loved from it somewhere… ugh why didn’t I write those DOWN?!

  6. Stephanie (Hopeless Romantics)

    I love the idea of having two different authors write for the two different POVs. It definitely makes it easier to differentiate between the two voices rather than getting confused. I’m so glad you loved the characters too. I always focus in on the characters and liking them is definitely a must for me. Thanks for the review =)

  7. Candice

    Oh I need to get on with reading this one! I was really excited to get it because it sounded so familiar to my own freshman year experience. I’m glad the POVs were different – I agree that having two different writers contributing helped! Great review!

  8. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages

    I feel like all I’ve read are really negative or really positive reviews for this one. It’s weird. But the people I trust the most seem to really be liking it so I’m excited to read it. Apparently it’s on its way to me now from the library so hopefully I’ll have it soon!

  9. Nicole

    WOO so glad you loved this! Now I am even more excited to start it. I am hoping I am able to read 3 books in the next 3 days so that I can read Roomies before I leave the country for 17 days. Otherwise I will have to wait until I return (I am only taking my Kindle) but cannot wait! Great review!

    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

  10. Stormy

    This book was already on my TBR, but your review made me much more excited for it! The summer before college seems such a great time to explore–I remember sending lots of emails to my roommate that summer, and that time I made myself look like an idiot because I got the state initials for Arizona and Arkansas confused. . .(My roommate was from Arkansas, but I was thinking Arizona, so I sent her a lovely email filled with questions about living in Arizona. It was not the best first impression, but it became a fun story later). Now I’m definitely excited to meet the two girls in this story!

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