Friday, January 10, 2014


It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

(Summary from GoodReads)

It wasn't until I read Maggie's review over at Just A Couple More Pages that I decided I needed this book.   Given my roommate experience in college, I knew I needed this book after reading her review.

Like most teenagers, I had some definite angst and heartache over the years, but I had a pretty good youth.  In sixth grade my family moved to an adorable suburb of Columbus, Ohio with a great school system.  We always had money for the things I needed, I knew I would eventually go to a great college, and I had friends who indulged my nerdy tendencies.  We did things like go to midnight showings of the Harry Potter movies and watched The Count of Monte Cristo in our spare time.

Between my junior and senior year of high school, I attended a young writers workshop at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. It was two glorious weeks of hanging out people who loved books and writing as much as I did.  I also made friends who wanted to chat about clothes and music and just be teenagers.  Over those two weeks, I became determined to go to Kenyon.  So when fall rolled around, I applied early decision, and got in.

Fast forward to July before I left for college.  By this point I knew I was going to Kenyon, and that within the next two weeks, my family would be leaving our house in Ohio so my dad could start a job in Minnesota. As I was about to head out for a get together with high school friends to bake bread for my Ultimate Croquet going away party, our house phone rang.  It was my future roommate on the phone  I had gotten her information and tried calling her, but the number I had was wrong.  I hurriedly told her my cell phone number and, because AIM was still at thing people used at the time, gave her my 
screenname: Hobbitfanatic712.
My beautiful alma mater.  
 Once I moved to Minnesota, I got to talk to Anna a little more.  She described herself as someone who got cold easily (not compared to me, we soon learned) and loved plants.  I was pretty excited because she sounded awesome.  She was dreading living with someone who had the screenname Hobbitfanatic712.

I would tell you about how we met on move-in day, but I came to college a few days early to start running cross-country.  On the day when all the other freshmen moved in, I came in exhausted from a practice and found Anna talking to someone on her phone.  At first, we were friendly and chatty, but that was about it.  We were both messy but were also both the type of person who would eventually clean, so we got along pretty well.

For me, there will always be one day that stuck out as the day we stopped being roommates and started being really good friends.  It was Friday right after lunch, and we were hanging out in room. I had been super stressed about an econ test that morning, and as I was telling Anna how it went, I started crying.  Her maternal instincts immediately kicked in, and she had me sit on her lap and cry there, which was a big improvement.  Maybe it doesn't sound a little odd, but how else are you supposed to get through life if you don't have moral support?
                                                                              Moving  in freshman year!

We got along great for the rest of the year.  We'd get ready for formals together, sometimes eat together, and just hang out. It was good.

Our sophomore year, we started off with different roommates, but it didn't work out. We wound up back together, and both went through our share of tough times that year.  That was when we really bonded.   We had singles across campus our senior year, which wasn't the best because I spent all of junior year abroad.  Every time we needed each other, we wound up in one or the other's room. 
 We totally bought ugly sweaters and matching pants and had our portraits done.

Anna is my best friend on the planet now.  We both love A Room With A View, and over the years pieces of ourselves have rubbed off on the other.  Anna is my fantastic archivist friend who talks to her plants and is sometimes in a little loud, but always in a way that makes you feel welcome.  I am her geeky friend who she sat down with one day and said, "You should be a teen librarian."  I'm lucky to have found my best friend in my roommate.  We've been apart since college, and don't get to hang out much, but we still stay caught up. I think we always will.

I have a copy of Roomies to give away!  Here are the rules:
*One winner will receive a copy of Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.
*Open to folks with U.S. street addresses. 
*Closes January 20th.

Also Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando are going on tour!  Here are the dates:
*January 12, 2014 – New York, NY: McNally Jackson [venue link]
*January 15, 2014 – Salt Lake City, UT: The King's English [venue link]
*January 16, 2014 – Provo, UT: Provo Library [venue link]
*February 4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA: Books Inc, Opera Plaza [venue link
*February 5, 2015 – Petaluma, CA: Copperfield's Books [venue link]


  1. I LOVE your Christmas picture together! And it sounds like you had a good roommate story in college! Thanks for hosting this giveaway, Liz.

  2. That's such a great roommate story! Freshman roommate life can be super awkward at first but I came out of it with a great friend!
    - Jared

  3. I never had a roommate in college so it's always nice to hear about others' stories! I love that Christmas picture. Adorable!

  4. Aww! fingers cross I have your kind of roomie experience

  5. The only room mate I've ever had was my sister. We shared a room for 15 years! It had its pros and cons, but it kept us close :) We're only 3 years apart, so we could talk about a lot of things. Thanks for this!

  6. Just read the Temple Wars Novel on Ganesha! The story is well told through a parallel protagonist Tarun who helps Ganesha retrieve his objects from the spirit world. It's a page-turner that will have you wanting more. You guys should check it out! Temple Wars



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