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Books Read in 2016: ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (3.5 stars) #amreading

Thursday, December 22, 2016

roomiesRoomies
by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Audiobook read by Becca Battoe and Emily Eiden
My rating: 3.5 stars

Book Summary:
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.

My GR Status Update(s):
12/15. . .marked as: currently-reading

12/16. . .25.0%

12/21. . .marked as: read

My Review:
About 3.5 stars.

It’s fitting that I ran across this book right now and decided to read (listen to) it to fulfill the “Z” opening on my A to Z reading challenge for 2016. Why fitting? Because I just finished watching Season 4 of Gilmore Girls—the season which follows Rory to her first year at Yale.

This book covers the summer between high school graduation and college matriculation for two young women: New Jersey native Elizabeth (“EB”) and San Franciscan Lauren. Both girls have family situations that make them antsy to get away for college—though Lauren, as the oldest in a very large family in a very small house, had requested a single room. So while only child EB is looking forward to having a roommate—a surrogate sibling, perhaps—Lauren is a little disappointed to learn she’s going to have to continue sharing a room with someone.

The premise of the story is the building relationship, via mostly email, between EB and Lauren once they learn they’ll be roommates their freshman year at Berkeley. It follows them through the awkward ups and downs of figuring out how much to share and being careful not to make too many inferences about each other based on perceived tone and briefness of certain messages.

In addition to this core relationship, both girls also start to develop new romantic relationships. One of the things I appreciated about the authors’ approaches to these two characters is that both girls, though having dated/had boyfriends throughout high school, are virgins when this story opens. Which made their developing romantic relationships even that much more interesting/tension-filled.

So, with all of this positive stuff, why only 3.5 stars?

EB. She really annoyed me. And it was compounded by the fact that the person (girl?) reading her part of the book had a horribly shrill girly/whiny voice that started grating on my nerves around the same time as the character of EB started making bad decisions and behaving in a way that wasn’t at all sympathy-inducing (just the opposite, in fact). And while the resolution brings her to a knowledge of how she’s behaved, it still didn’t negate the fact that she’s not someone I would be friends with—nor someone I would enjoy being around for a very long period of time, because she annoyed me so much. So having half the book in her POV is what brought down my enjoyment of it.

However, those are personal feelings/reactions to this book. It’s an interesting look at how two different people from opposite coasts and from completely different backgrounds spend their last summer before college—and get to know their first college roommate in an age of instant access through email, text messaging, social media, etc.

_______
My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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