January 2014

A long way from coordinating bedspreads

By Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
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Here’s a neat trick: a dual-authored story about two prospective college roommates who never meet over the course of the novel. Roomies tells Elizabeth (“E.B.”) and Lauren’s stories through the emails they send during their last summers at home. For E.B., the move is cross-country, away from her single mom and soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, and toward the gay dad who abandoned her after coming out. Lauren is just moving across the San Francisco Bay, but her family is so large it’s like leaving a small island nation. She really wanted a single room for just this reason.

The emails between the girls offer a gentle contrast between how we present ourselves online versus who we are IRL, and how much we try to read into correspondence when there’s nothing else to consult for clues. E.B. and Lauren are both going through changes common during the last summer before college, but they sometimes fail to empathize with one another because their surface differences seem so vast. Before they even lay eyes on one another, the girls come close to opting out of the shared dorm. Roomies is a bittersweet and hopeful story of change.

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By Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Little, Brown Young Readers
ISBN 9780316217491

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