Book Review #37: Roomies

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I could’ve used a book like “Roomies” before I started college, especially one that focuses almost exclusively on the perils of that first summer before.

“Roomies” centers around Lauren and Elizabeth, strangers from opposite coasts who begin emailing each other after they learn that they’re going to be roommates. What starts as routine correspondence grows into something resembling friendship–except the girls haven’t actually met yet.

The line drawn between real life intimacy and online confessions is one of the best parts of the book. Both girls can and do censor themselves and misunderstand each other because their conversations aren’t happening in real time. Their knowledge of each other is limited by their physical distance, and one of the main reasons they feel so close to each other is because that distance allows them to be honest in a way they can’t be at home.

Some of the interpersonal issues were resolved without the appropriate amount of hassle–Elizabeth’s issues with her friend Janine, and Lauren’s issues with her family come to mind–but for the most part I appreciated the lack of drama. Going away to school forces enough change on its own that the authors didn’t need to obsess over specifics.

Friendships end, new relationships begin, and you start to realize how much you’ve taken your family for granted your whole life. It felt more meaningful for Lauren and Elizabeth to recognize these changes and respond to them than it was for them to dig in their heels and throw fits. What made the book for me was watching both girls learn that they can take control of their own destinies and their own relationships. That they can make their lives whatever they want them to be.

“Roomies” is pretty light contemporary compared to some of what’s out there, but it’s an important book nonetheless. I’d definitely recommend it.

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