Friday, 6 June 2014

Roomies - Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Published: January 2nd 2014, Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 235 pages, ebook
Series/Standalone: Standalone

Summary (from Goodreads): An engaging and heart-warming 'two voice' story of an East Coast/West Coast digital friendship that begins when Elizabeth emails her soon-to-be college roommate, Lauren. On the cusp of freedom during their last summer before starting a new independent life away from home, they discover the catharsis that an anonymous email friendship can bring as they chronicle the tension, excitement and anxiety of leaving their homes, falling in love, and finding the right mini-fridge.

My review: I was really excited to read Roomies, after having it on my Goodreads wishlist for quite a while. I'm generally a fan of 'two voice' stories and the format of the novel being told through emails really appealed to me, as did the 'getting ready to go to college' element. So, did Roomies stand up to my excitement? Um...yes and no.

Elizabeth and Lauren are two very, very different people and they've just discovered they're going to be roommates at college. They're both excited to get away from their families for different reasons and we learn more about each girl and her backstory as the novel progresses. After a little hiccup at the beginning, Elizabeth and Lauren aren't too sure they're going to get on as their personalities are pretty different, though after a few email exchanges they begin to warm to each other and share more and more about their lives, until they're sharing secrets they haven't even told their closest friends.

So far, so good, right? Right. The premise is great, the characters are interesting and the story draws you in as it develops, especially Lauren's budding relationship and Elizabeth's dynamic with her divorced parents. However, my problem with Roomies is that I devoured the sections where the girls were emailing each other but my attention drifted every time it switched to a standard narrative. When I picked up Roomies I thought the whole thing would be told through emails, which I loved the idea of, but in reality it's probably a third emails, two thirds narrative. This isn't really an issue as the prose is well-written, it's just that I was expecting something different...which could well be my fault!

A further issue I had with the email/standard narrative split is that it started to feel a bit repetitive towards the end, as we'd see Lauren and Elizabeth's days pan out in the narrative, and then have the whole thing rehashed through an email, so towards the end I did find myself skimming over certain sections to avoid the repetition.

That said, I would recommend picking up Roomies if you're looking for a fun story of friendship, love and family that has a different spin on it, just don't do what I did and assume it's going to be told 100% through emails as you may be a little disappointed.


  1. I really enjoyed this one but I think if it had been told entirely in emails it would have been even better!

  2. I didn't enjoy this one too much - I found it slow and it didn't hold my attention. Great review!


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