Estelle: Roomies by Tara Altebrando + Sara Zarr

Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara ZarrRoomies by Tara Altebrando ( web | tweet ) and Sara Zarr ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 288
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: summer before college, California, New Jersey, college roommates, technology
Format read: Paperback ARC from Novel Sounds. (Thanks!)

Summary: The summer before college, two strangers “meet” on separate coasts. Elizabeth from New Jersey and Lauren from San Francisco are going to be roommates when they start college in the fall. Their summers are full of romance, family drama, and tons of change and as the days get closer to their first meeting, they rely more and more on each other.

Five pages into Roomies, I was thanking the book gods for placing it in my hands.

The summer before I left for college was pretty rough. I started dating a new guy (this would lead to a long distance relationship), my mom and I were fighting all the time (there is this one fight over paper towels that I can’t seem to forget), and I was working two jobs. It was a lot. Then there’s that extra layer of all your friends leaving for college one by one, and you are basically the only one left. (Our school started late.)

Your emotions are so jumbled up. On one hand, you are so excited to start a new thing and get out of the town you grew up in and on the other, you are totally terrified to leave the comforts of your friendships, your house, and your parents — scared to leave the past behind. (Ten years later, it’s funny to me that these are the same fears I have now. Scared to move forward, excited to jump ahead. I can never make up my mind.)

Elizabeth (EB) and Lauren are feeling such similar things: tension with their best friends, on the brink of new romances, and then the family stuff. For Elizabeth, she is so ready to get out of the nest and away from her mother, who is too busy dating the wrong men to spend time with her and for Lauren, she’s so used to being a big part in taking care of her big family. Her mom and dad really depend on her to take on a lot of work at home: baby-sitting, cleaning, you name it, she does it. So Lauren’s a little apprehensive: can her parents do this without her? How will her siblings deal with missing her?

Through each of their characters, Altebrando and Zarr hit on so many intriguing conclusions on friendships: the dependence you feel on old friends and the hope that new friendships can become just as meaningful. As these girls get deeper and deeper into the summer and find themselves leaning on one another, you are left to wonder how their relationship will hold up in real time, face to face. While this book is so much about moving forward and growing up, there’s also some interesting commentary on technology: how easy it is to confide in a stranger through email, and how easy it is to doubt the genuineness of the person on the other side. Trust totally comes into play.

Separately, Altebrando and Zarr write books that are memorable, touching, and so quote-worthy I might as well highlight the entire thing. But together? It’s almost out of control how much I felt immediately at home, ready to curl up with hot cocoa until I was done. Elizabeth’s landscape architecture dreams, Lauren’s lack of “real” phone, and then the boys — EB’s Mark and his sweet tasks for the summer and Lauren’s Keyon and how he always asks his dad for advice about her (Keyon’s dad soon becomes synonymous with adult wisdom for both girls). There is absolutely so much to enjoy in Roomies; I couldn’t possibly list it all.

This is definitely a book that is meant to be re-read time and time again and absolutely the best reading experience to end your year.

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12 thoughts on “Estelle: Roomies by Tara Altebrando + Sara Zarr

  1. Maya says:

    I’m glad to hear how much you enjoyed Roomies! I had a copy in the post last week and thought it looked great, and I’ll definitely be reading it soon. Lovely review!

  2. elena says:

    by book gods, i assume you mean me to which i say U R WELCOME. 😉

    i agree with this so much: how easy it is to confide in a stranger through email, and how easy it is to doubt the genuineness of the person on the other side. i luckily have never had reason to doubt any of my friendships online though and i’m v thankful about the people i have met. (welp, that is until i found out you’re secretly a middle-aged man)


  3. alice-jane says:

    I loved this book as well. It was so easy to relate to both of the characters, whether it was through their dependence on their high school friends as they transitioned into college, or their ease with talking to each other over email about things they didn’t really talk to their friends in real life about. I enjoyed reading their emails to each other and hopefully Altebrando and Zarr do another collaboration because I definitely enjoyed Roomies.

  4. Rachel says:

    So I was an idiot and let my egalley expire because I didn’t think I’d like this one after my whole Fangirl experience. But oh my gosh, your review makes this sound so so good. This book sounds so relevant to my life right now with me graduating in the spring and everything. I’m DEFINITELY putting this on hold at the library.

  5. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages says:

    I am so excited to read this one and you’ve made me even more excited! Although I have a little resentment towards it since I tried to get one of the several hundred NetGalley ARCs but missed out (stupid chemistry lab strikes again), BUT even though I didn’t get the ARC NetGalley still has it on my shelf and I got an email this morning reminding me to read it!

  6. Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books says:

    I’m glad this book was able to touch you pretty profoundly, Estelle! I feel like it will do the same for me – my summer right before college was also crazy, mainly because my family moved halfway across the country, so while I didn’t experience the traditional summer before college, this one was also fraught with new changes and challenges. Honestly, this sounds like the perfect intro to college book, and I’m hoping to get a lot out of it myself.

  7. Alexa Y. says:

    Your review has convinced me YET AGAIN that I need this book in my life STAT. It sounds like just the kind of book I’d enjoy, particularly since I’ve had my own roomie experiences too. I seriously have nothing more to say but I WANT THIS NOW.

  8. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says:

    YES. I’m so glad you are book pushing this one because it pushed me to pick up the egalley before I might have.
    I actually did not have a similar experience before leaving for college at all but there are just SO many relatable situations in this book that I found myself in it anyway. (You know.. I went AWAY junior year so I knew one of my roomies and at least kind of knew the other — drama to follow which is too much for a comment haha). ANYWAY. Yes! this was just so wonderfully written and I just love love love the college experiences even before college starts. It was interesting to see this written solely in the between time versus heading over into actual college time as well.

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