Do Roommates = Best Friends?: ‘Roomies’ by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

It’s pretty much a given that a book by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando is going to be great. I loved Sara Zarr’s Sweethearts and The Lucy Variations (and her podcast, This Creative Life), and I adored Tara Altebrando’s The Pursuit of Happiness. And when I found out that their book, Roomies, was about two girls who are about to become college roommates, I knew I was going to love it.

I mean, I can still vividly remember how I felt when I found out my freshman roommate’s name and sent her my first email. As we emailed each other through the summer and coordinated who would bring the tiny TV and who would buy a rug to cover up the cold tile dorm room floor, I wondered if we would turn into best friends. Would we stay up every night watching Gilmore Girls together? Would we eat breakfast in the dining hall every morning and counsel each other through our respective crises? Would we get along so spectacularly badly that she would transfer to another room at the end of our first semester? Okay, so the last one is what actually happened, but I don’t mean to scare those of you who haven’t gone off to college. One of my best college friends ended up moving in with me and we just ate pizza and watched reruns of Boy Meets World all the time, so don’t worry! Things work out for the best!

But enough about me and my terrible roommate story (seriously, once she reorganized my side of the room, including my desk! OKAY I’M DONE FOR REAL!). Let’s talk about Roomies. The book alternates between two points of view. There’s Elizabeth, who lives in New Jersey with her mom, and Lauren, who lives in San Francisco with her parents and roughly one million little brothers and sisters. They couldn’t be more different–Elizabeth is used to living with just her mom, since her gay dad left them and started a new life on the West coast. And, since she’s feeling more and more left out from her group of high school friends, she’s looking forward to having a built-in bestie in the form of a roommate. Meanwhile, Lauren wants nothing more than a little time alone. She spends so much time taking care of her siblings that she’s practically their third parent.

But soon, the things they have in common start to outweigh their differences. They’re both facing some dude drama (A.K.A. my favorite kind of drama) and they both begin to realize all the things they’ll miss about their homes. And, as the girls send more emails and get to know each other better, they go through several years’ worth of friendship ups and downs over the course of a few months. It’s so interesting to watch their friendship play out through emails while also seeing each girl’s POV.

Roomies was a fun read that also had a lot of emotional depth. I loved it, and it gave me some serious flashbacks to that scary and exciting summer before college. Be sure to pick up a copy when it comes out on December 24th. It will make a great Christmas present–for yourself or someone else.


-I loved that so much of the book took place through emails. I’ve always loved correspondence-based books, and the style reminded me of some of the awesome books I read as a kid, like P.S. Longer Letter Later by Ann M. Martin and Paula Danziger.

-Another thing I loved about Roomies was how realistically it approached…well, everything. I love a swoony, over-the-top romance more than anyone, but sometimes it’s nice to see relationships play out the way they typically do in real life. It was also funny to see how Lauren’s super-liberal parents react to a certain romantic development in her life (sorry for being vague, but I try to avoid spoilers for brand-new books).

-Guys, books that take place at the beginning of college are the best. Personally, that was one of the most exciting, scary, uncomfortable and exhilarating times of my life! Moving away from home, being around total strangers, going to new classes, making new friends, eating in dining halls and being crammed into a tiny, tiny room with (at least) one other person? It’s an insane experience, and Roomies really captured the feelings that go along with it. Aside from Fangirl (which we all love, right?), do you guys have any other favorite books that take place around the end of high school or the beginning of college? Be sure to let me know!

Roomies comes out on December 24th, so be sure to pick up a copy! Little, Brown was nice enough to send me a review copy, but rest assured I would never ever recommend anything to you guys that I didn’t absolutely love. I may be weird and unhealthily obsessed with YA, but I’m also very honest.

Are you guys going to check out Roomies? Are you still friends with your freshman roommate, or did you have a terrible experience like I did? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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