Book: Roomies by Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando, Hachette Audio, December 2013
Book Info: Borrowed audio via Overdrive (and review copy provided via Netgalley.) Running time: 10 hrs. Read by: Becca Battoe, Emily Eiden. Also available in hardcover or e-book, 288 pages from Little, Brown
Roomies is a YA/NA hybrid about two girls getting ready to leave for college. Part of the excitement I felt upon reading Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando is that I never had a college roommate experience myself. I imagined how much fun living in a dorm would be, and couldn’t help but feel I was missing out on that rite of passage. But there are practical concerns about living with a perfect stranger – what if you are total opposites? In Roomies, we get a look at the online meeting of two potential college roommates who get to test the waters before they become actual roomies.
Roomies is two stories in one, and is about Elizabeth (EB) in Florida and Lauren in San Francisco. Elizabeth is an only child and eager to go to Berkeley and bond with her roommate. Lauren, on the other hand, has a full house with lots of siblings, and longs for a single room at Berkeley. Lauren prefers the quiet life and Elizabeth is very outgoing- will these two find a common ground as roomies?
Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando are co-writers of Roomies. I’m familiar with Zarr’s writing, and if I had to guess I’d venture she wrote Lauren’s chapters. But, really the writing is seamless among the co-authors. Lauren and Elizabeth are polar opposites so it’s easy to tell their voice apart, but the writing style is very cohesive.
It’s clever to tell a college roommate story before the students actually arrive at school. Lauren and Elizabeth correspond via email, but since they’ve never “talked” miscommunications occur. I liked seeing the relationship evolve as they break the ice. They actually meet at the perfect time to support each other through some family and boy drama over the summer.
I like that Roomies focuses on this pivotal time in the characters lives. Leaving home for the first time is huge, leaving friends and loved ones behind, and striking out on your own. Plus, moving clear across the country is a big adjustment and the book addresses questions about race, sexuality, and East Coast/West Coast differences. Would love to see more books tackle this important time of life.
I listened to the audiobook of Roomies, performed by Becca Battoe and Emily Eiden, two new-to-me narrators. (Battoe is best known for narrating Fifty Shades of Grey, and Eiden for Paranormalcy) I believe Battoe is Elizabeth, and Eiden is Lauren, and they both sound like how I’d imagine the characters to sound. Lauren is more quiet and serious, while Elizabeth is bubbly and outgoing. Both performers use different voices and accents for the characters, and it was easy to tell the Lauren and Elizabeth chapters apart, so I’m glad I went with the audio version.
Roomies is a fun read that also has some depth to it, and it’s a perfect book to hand to the high school graduate in your life.
My Roomie story:
As part of a fun Roomies campaign we are asked to share our own “Roomie Story.” Like I said earlier, I never did live in a dorm. My first “roomie” was my boyfriend (now husband.) I moved with him from Los Angeles to New York, so not only did I have a new roomie but also a new city to get acquainted with! Plus it was the winter, so I had my first ever experience with snow! I’m more of an introvert type like Lauren in Roomies so I’m used to quiet time but we embraced the NY nightlife and had lots of fun exploring the city. We ate out a lot but shared in the household chores, and I don’t remember any arguments about one of us being too messy. It turned out we were ideal roomies!
How about you? Did you live in a dorm? Any funny or awkward roommate stories to share?
Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando are currently on tour promoting Roomies. Go say hi if they are hitting your city:
- January 12, 2014 – New York, NY: McNally Jackson [venue link]
- January 15, 2014 – Salt Lake City, UT: The King’s English [venue link]
- January 16, 2014 – Provo, UT: Provo Library [venue link]
- February 4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA: Books Inc, Opera Plaza [venue link]
- February 5, 2015 – Petaluma, CA: Copperfield’s Books [venue link]