Monday, August 18, 2014

YA Review: Roomies

 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.

Zarr, S & Altebrando, T (2013). [Genre: Contemporary]
Source: I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher for review via BookBridgr. I recieved no other form of compensation and all opinions are my own
I didn't really enjoy Roomies. I didn't dislike it, I just felt like it didn't hit the right buttons for me. It's a sweet enough story and the writing is solid. The two person perspective is well done, with the transitions seamless enough that it isn't obvious this is a co-written story. The story is fine too . . . two girls with very different backgrounds about to go off to university. Elizabeth lives with her single mother, and is struggling with her mothers dating life and disinterest in her daughters' needs. Lauren is the oldest of six children and is looking forward to escaping from her role as the third parent. After being assigned each other as roommates for the coming year, they soon become each others sounding board for the fears and problems they are facing as their move to university life comes closer.

I think when it comes down to it I just didn't connect with this story. I think it's because from a personal point of view, I'm removed from it. I remember the time before I started university well, and indeed remember very similar problems to those Lauren and Elizabeth face (starting to drift away from friends, re-establishing family roles). But I have the benefit of hindsight. For me that time is well over half a decade ago - as of this November I've spent as long outside of university as I did in it. For me, those problems don't have the drama and immediacy that they have for Roomies' two main characters. I look back on that time as one of positive transition. My relationships with my family grew stronger as I took on a more adult role in the family unit. Several friendships that had, retrospectively, become fairly toxic, were cut off and I made some of my best friends at university. Like Elizabeth, during that time I started a relationship with a boy outside of my core friendship group, which my friends struggled to deal with. He's now my husband of over two years.

For Lauren and Elizabeth, university is a future unknown. For me it's a known and a past. And unfortunately for Roomies, the story didn't seem to offer anything beyond that basic premise. There was nothing to carry away apart from 'going to university is scary and exciting.' Which it is, but so what? There are to many novels out there with a similar premise that say far more about the human condition, such as Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. I feel like Roomies is unlikely to stick in my mind.

2.5/5 stars.

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