Release Date: December 23, 2013
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA Fiction
Review Date: February 5, 2014
Rating: 4 bookmarks
Synopsis: 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.
Disclaimer: I was given an e-galley courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Elizabeth and Lauren could not be more different, yet at the root of things they are essentially the same. We got to know each girl and their own personal issues and what it was like for them leading up to being away from home for the first time. It all begins when Elizebeth (EB for short) reaches out to Lauren via email after learning from the housing department that they will be roommates in the fall at UC Berkley. Lauren lives in nearby San Francisco with her parents and their large family of five siblings and EB lives in New Jersey with her mother, she has no siblings and divorced parents.
Throughout the book their delicate relationship teeters back and forth as they email back and forth over the summer. You can't really tell if they will be lifelong friends, frenemies or enemies or even roommates at all. It's amazing to see how two strangers are able to connect because of a mutual fear, for lack of a better word, of the unknown going in to their first year away from home. Throw in family, high school friends, changing relationships, boys, dating and the whole stress of going away to school quadruples for these girls.
Even though my experiences at that age were nothing like EB and Lauren, this book did take be back to the beginning of my first year away at college. Unlucky for me, my first roomy was dreadful. Thankfully, we didn't have to deal with each other for very long because she switched with someone else. After that, dorm life was much better. Anyways, back to the topic at hand - the book!
One thing I wasn't sure about was the bit of racial things going on. Lauren seemed all in a tizzy and nervous about dating a black guy...and I didn't like that. Don't get me wrong, I thought they were cute together, but I didn't care for how awkward Lauren was and how taboo it seemed to EB. It was like they both had never been around anyone but white people. Strange. It is 2014 after all. Even Lauren's father seemed to react badly to it at first. I just didn't care for that part. It would have been better to just leave the whole interracial thing out. There was enough going on that the story didn't really need it the extra drama and it felt out of place anyway.
Zarr and Altebrando did a great job writing cohesively. Sometimes I worry that the story will be disjointed when there are two authors, but in this case they pulled it off with finesse. I wonder if one author wrote for EB and the other wrote for Lauren. Hmm, however they did it, the two girls had their own voice and the story flowed easily.
I adored the ending of this book. it was perfect. The last page was just enough for us to assume what we want. Zarr and Altebrando are a solid writing team and I recommend this book for both older teens and adults alike.