Sunday, December 22, 2013

Roomies (review)

4/5 stars

Roomies (Gooreads | Amazon) is the type of contemporary that I'm just bound to like.  It's about friendship, family and figuring out who you are in relationship to both of those things.  Roomies is the story of Elizabeth, from New Jersey, and Lauren, from San Francisco who are assigned to be roommates their freshman year at Berkley.

The book is told partially in prose and also in epistolary form, with emails back and forth between the two roomies.  As their lives get more complicated with college looming, the pair find it easier to confess their secrets to a nameless person that the people around them.  For me, someone who has had an email friendship, this rang true.  Before text messaging was all the rage, I used to send long emails to one of my best friends from college and this is how we communicated 90% of the time.  Sometimes it is so much easier to write down your fears, your doubts, your life frustrations than to speak them out loud and make them real.
"And I'm starting to think that what people's parents are like is HUGELY important. Because you either turn out like them or you go so far in the opposite direction for whatever reason that you end up being totally unlike them." 
Elizabeth is struggling with her mother's promiscuity and her father's absence.  Whereas Lauren has a seemingly perfect set of parents, just with a lot of siblings and responsibility piled on her and not much money to go around.  They aren't that similar.  But isn't that the wonder of the college roommate system?  If you don't already have someone (I did), then you could end up with anyone and you have to build a relationship from scratch, which is what we see happening in this novel.

Both characters are imperfect people.  But that's what makes them compelling and believable.  When they mess up, you can imagine yourself making the same mistake.  The emails are full of honesty, and the authors let us see not only what the characters say but what they wanted to say, the things they're not sure how to word or if they're allowed to say.  It's the type of real honesty and willingness to let their characters say things they shouldn't that really makes this novel something special. And even though there is romance, this is first and foremost a book about friendship and family, important things that are often neglected in YA books because they're less glamorous and more messy.  I'm glad Roomies accepted the messy aspects of life, opting for emotional honesty and creating a novel that is both wholly readable and achingly realistic.

I received an advanced reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

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