Roomies, by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (2013)

Genre: Contemporary
Interest Level: 14-17
RoomiesFirst-year (or freshman) university spots have been offered and accepted, and next come the dorm room assignments. New Jersey teen Elizabeth (also known as “EB”) can’t wait for someone to share her secrets with as she savours the promise of a new life as a freshman at Berkeley. As soon as she gets the news of her room assignment, EB sends an email to introduce herself to her new roommate, Lauren. Across the country, Lauren is initially devastated to learn her request for a single room has not been fulfilled. Lauren is the eldest of six and is sick of sharing her room. The novel unfolds in a series of emails bolstered by narrative that situates their reactions and the context of their lives as both girls prepare for a big change, at once exciting and terrifying. The two authors fully flesh out both protagonists and their stories, complete with a complex cast of supporting characters. The emotions are genuine, ranging from upbeat to angry, from tense to tearful. Friends are honest, parents are flawed but often well-meaning, romances are tentative and thrilling, and email can be a perilous mode of communication. I don’t know who wrote which half, but I did think Mark was much better developed as a boyfriend than Keyon. Too bad, because I quite liked this young entrepreneur! As someone who works with undergraduates on a daily basis, this novel rings true and honest, and will delight teen readers who can’t wait for the university or college years to begin.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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