A Tale of Two Roomies...or Six

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.

Today, I'm talking about roommates on the blog in honor of Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr's newly published Roomies, which details the summer before soon-to-be college roommates Elizabeth and Lauren arrive at school. Ironically enough, the girls don't even meet on-page in the novel so we never witness them in all their full roommate glory so instead, I'm going to regale you with some tales of my own adventures as a roomie. In addition to my silly stories, I also have a copy of the book to give away!

 Roommate the first: My sister Emily. 
Em and I grew up sharing a room for...maybe the first eleven years of my life? I don't remember exactly when she moved out, but it was sometime around there. Emily is a couple years older than I am, and it's probably a good thing she moved down to the basement when she entered The Teenage Years. Our experience as roommates was probably pretty typical. We fought. A lot. We were messy. Also a lot. I, in particular, am the messy one, and Emily was just stuck with me. However, when we got along, we were blessed with an overabundance of imagination, and honestly, our unicorn-wallpapered room was a magical place. Our homemade (thanks, Dad!) bunk beds became a castle or a fortress surrounded by lava. My bed, the lower bunk, was a tent, surrounded by blankets and walls and Emily's bed on top, and sometimes, we'd slip my mattress partially onto the floor and use it as a slide. Our parents were less amused of that game. One time, we played war, which basically meant we barricaded ourselves onto opposite sides of the floor–I chose the closet alcove between the dresser and the desk; Emily, the window alcove opposite–and chucked toys at each other. That was one of the best days ever. Many giggles were had over the Barbie shoes and Ninja Turtle weapons flying through the air.

With the exception of a couple of various week- or month-long summer camps in high school, I didn't have another roommate until college, when I was randomly assigned Roommate the Second: Jennifer. We were from rival high schools in the same area, although we lived about an hour apart. It is possible we had seen each other at football games during high school and never realized it. Jennifer was a pretty cool girl...for the first week of college. We had so much in common, and we'd talk all the time. But, her high school boyfriend dumped her on the first day of classes, and a week later, she thought she needed to replace him. After that first week, it was no longer Mary-and-Jennifer facing the world but Jennifer-and-guy-with-French-name. I noticed on her Myspace page (yes, Myspace was still a thing my freshman year of college, but that WAS the semester I got a Facebook) that they had taken pictures in our room and I was in the background, on my bed. Um, weird. Also, they'd make out right in front of me, which was awkward, and I felt like a stranger in my own room. When things started to get horizontal, I'd escape to my best friends', Lindsay and Alyce, rooms. Luckily, they lived on the same floor, just down the hall. Jennifer moved out after that first semester so she could go to the freshman-only dorm that French Boyfriend lived in. That led me to...

Roommate the Third: Brittany. Brittany had lived in the room across the hall during fall semester. I wasn't sure why she moved to mine, but I figured it meant she and her original roommate had problems, and that made me nervous. Brittany and I NEVER TALKED. She would go to bed at NINE PM, which was not at all an improvement over Jenn's 3 AM bedtimes. I again felt like a stranger in my own room. I had to actually go to a study room to study at night because as soon as the clock ticked over from 8:59 to 9:00, BAM! Lights out! 

Safe to say that my favorite college roommates were not my own, but rather all my friends who made me at home in their own rooms and houses. The next year, Alyce and her roommate Kalie moved in with two of our other friends, Cara and Ashlea. They lived maybe 15 minutes away from campus, but I was always welcome to come over for movies or High School Musical or Supernatural marathons or dinner or even to bring my laundry over...for FREE. Those girls gave me my vicarious experience with real roommates because I always became embroiled in their roommate drama (who didn't do the dishes, who forgot to take the trash out, etc), and I realized that being a roommate is a lot more involved than multiple people who happen to live in the same place and share bills. After that, I always got a single in my dorm, and after I left college, I lived at home, where it was just me and my parents. Having a roommate wasn't an issue for a few years...until I moved to Texas last year.

See, I was stuck in every aspect of my life. I felt like I was slowly drowning at home. I had no prospects professionally or personally. So my sister encouraged me to move to Texas, which led me to Roommates Four and Five: Emily and her husband Jared

This was a real learning experience. Because my mom and dad did so much for me when I was with them, I was doing Real Adult Things for the the first time. We even drew up a Roommate Agreement like Sheldon's from The Big Bang Theory (but much less involved)! There were some touch-and-go moments during my stay with E&J. There were arguments and tears and yelling. I perpetually felt like the odd one out because, duh. I was. But there were amazing moments of togetherness too. Now that we're all grown up, Emily and I are best friends, and we tend to get really punchy late at night. I'm sure Jared often felt like the only grown up as he'd referee the two of us chasing one another around the house or our random laugh-fests, but I think he liked coming home to Emily and me making dinner together (usually laughing our heads off at naughty jokes we'd told), which was often. There was one time I came home at what was my usual time when I worked a full day, but Emily body-slammed the door on the inside and wouldn't let me in for a few minutes. Apparently, they hadn't realized I would be home quite that early (again, even though it was a normal time for me to arrive home!), and Jared wasn't wearing pants. O_O We had a lot of fun, the three of us. We're a family of gamers, and nights were often spent playing cards or Dominion and shotgunning shows on Netflix. Pretty sure the three of us also kept Little Caesars in business; no matter how many meals we cooked, we also ate a metric butt-ton of pizza too. However, things change, and eventually it was time for me to leave. After all, Emily and Jared got a new roommate soon after I left. She's small and cute and at times, very loud and smelly. ;) I love my replacement, and so do they, but I think we all agree that I allowed them to get more sleep!

So that brings me to current day, and Roommate the Sixth: Camille. We haven't been living together very long, just a few months, but Camille and I get along swimmingly! I'm very grateful to have her. Our schedules are nearly completely opposite, which means we don't see each other a whole lot, so when we do see each other, we're really happy about it! Camille and I spent the holidays bonding over silly Hallmark movies. She was cleaning our tiles one day while I was blogging, and I would shout out movie info to her. "Camille! Christmas Orphans is on! And SUPERMAN is in it!" She thought the name of the movie was actually Christmas Orphans, but I just called it that because I didn't catch the title. Also, it was a Christmas movie about three orphan boys. Yeah. You already know how it ends. Or she'd say, "They're [the main characters] not talking right now. I bet they're kissing." I looked up at the screen, and sure enough, they were kissing. Our BEST story of roommatehood, however, comes from the early-ish days of rooming together. Camille works regular hours every week, unlike me, so I almost always know when she's going to come home. Almost. One day, she got home about 4 hours early because she was going on a weekend trip to see her former roommate. Our house is laid out so there is a loooong hallway with our bedrooms branching off either side, and the kitchen and the living room are in the very back. I was in the kitchen, and I could hear her walking down the hallway. I started panicking and called out to her. "Um....Camille?" "Yeah?" she answered. "So.....I'm not wearing any pants," I informed her. She started laughing and told me she'd go in her room. I quickly escaped and dressed. Oops! Even though we're both women, we're both preferential to a more Clothing Required kind of life, but that story has become one of legend, and it never fails to make us laugh. Clearly, I had learned nothing from living with Em & Jared. Oh, pants. You make for such wonderful and silly stories! When I moved out of Emily & Jared's, I was really nervous because this was truly my first experience with a real kind of roommate. Not just a family member or a random person at college, but a real roommate. I had no idea what to expect, but thankfully, Camille is an awesome roommate. Hopefully, she can say the same about me (I make sure to isolate all my mess in my own room)!

I hope you have enjoyed my tales of roommatehood, and now is time for the good stuff! Tara & Sara are starting off their Roomies tour next week. If you live anywhere near these cities, I hope you'll take the chance to go meet the ladies, and also, I'm horrifically jealous of you because I liked Roomies a lot.

Little, Brown is giving me the opportunity to pass the magic on to one of my readers. This is a US-only giveaway and will run for one week, ending at 12 AM January 17. Please follow all my giveaway policies as stated in the Site & Giveaway Policy tab at the top of the page. I will notify the winner after the giveaway ends, then I will pass the information on to LB, who will ship your book directly. Best of luck!

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  1. I just heard of this book the other day, which is weird. However, it looks so good and I'm super excited to read it!!!
    XO, Kristi

  2. This book sounds so great -- a concept that all of us who have ever had roommates can relate to. Tara is new to me, but I love Sara's books, so I'm sure this one will be amazing!

  3. Thank you for the giveaway. I've had Roomies on my tbr for a long time.

  4. I'm still so sad that I didn't get a copy during the promo on Netgalley. /: It looks awesome! I had fun writing my post about living with Andrea. (: Good times.

  5. I have heard that this is really good! Can't wait to read it.

  6. I enjoyed Roomies quite a bit. I did have the odd feeling that it seemed too short for a full novel, but too long for a novella. I think it was the split narration, but I'm not sure. Regardless, it was a fun read.