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Book review: 'Roomies' is full of truth, heart

By Tara Creel

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 11 2014 1:00 p.m. MST

"ROOMIES," by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $18, 279 pages (f) (16 and up)

"Roomies," a collaborative novel written by Utah author Sara Zarr and author Tara Altebrando, is a story about relationships, change and figuring out who one is.

Surprisingly, "Roomies" isn't a story about roommates and typical first-year college experiences. Rather, it is about two girls, Elizabeth and Lauren, who are connected through the college and told they will be roommates when they start school in the fall.

During the summer before school starts, EB and Lauren send emails to get to know each other and build a friendship through trusting one another with their secrets and advice.

Lauren and EB come from almost opposite family situations. One was raised with five siblings and happily married parents, while the other was a single child with a single mother. EB was raised in New Jersey and Lauren in San Fransisco. Both use each other's differences to broaden their opinions on life, and they use their similarities, boyfriends, best friends and fear of change to grow closer together.

"Roomies" is clearly executed and easy to follow, as each chapter alternates between Lauren's and EB's point of view. The authors show each character's individual life and tie the girls together through their emails to each other.

The characters deal with true-to-life issues, such as graduating from high school, friendships, boyfriends, jobs and looking for familiarity and consistency in a time where everything is about to change.

With the many different relationships — familial, friend and romantic — are moments able to touch or break the heart. "Roomies" shows the fragility in any relationship along with the ability for those same relationships to survive and grow.

The characters show that while change can bring about many new problems in life, it also brings the good and illuminates the best things one already has.

"Roomies" contains frequent and intense swearing and many references to sexual relationships.

If you go ...

What: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando book signing

When: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, www.sarazarr.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.

Also ...

When: Thursday, Jan. 16, 7 p.m.

Where: Provo City Library, Brimhall Room, No. 302, 550 N. University Ave., Provo

Web: provolibrary.com

Tara Creel is a Logan, Utah, native and mother of three boys. Her email is taracreel@gmail.com and her blog is at taracreelbooks.wordpress.com.

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