I normally save my mini-reviews for one star books — my DNFs. In this case, I’m reviewing two books near the other end of the scale: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales and Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. I read them both last month but put off their reviews for so long that I don’t feel I can write a full review anymore.
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
Elise has been an outcast, and bullied, for years. At sixteen, she’s still trying desperately to fit in. This is going to be the year. She’s spent the summer studying up so that she knows all the right pop culture topics and has the right clothes — even though she doesn’t like the clothes or care about the celebrity gossip. But school starts and Elise is still Elise and her first day of school attempt at fitting in doesn’t quite work out the way she expected. She might look the part, but she’s still on the outside.
Months later, after a failed suicide attempt/cry for attention, Elise is walking around town at night, like she does a lot, when she accidentally stumbles onto an underground dance party.
It changes her life.
As Elise moves from awkward outcast to star DJ at the dance club, she discovers exactly where she fits in. I found Elise so easy to relate to even though I’ve never experienced what she has at school and I’m not into music the way she is. I like music and I have my favorite bands, but I’m not that knowledgeable about it and I’m definitely no music snob. I have preferred genres and songs, but overall I’m pretty much good with what’s on the radio at any given moment. Elise IS a music snob, and at the beginning of the book I was afraid she was going to be one of those characters I hate because of it, but fortunately she doesn’t dwell on it throughout the book. I’m not familiar with many of the songs mentioned in the book, but the ones I do know, I like. I’m going to have to find a playlist or something so I can look into the other songs.
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.
Roomies was just as good as I hoped it would be!
When EB (Elizabeth) and Lauren were assigned as roommates, EB made first contact. She was excited to be moving across the country, excited to have a roommate, excited to start over. Lauren, the oldest of six (all much younger), was hoping for a single. She had already spent the past few years sharing her room with two sisters and, a serious student, she wanted a quiet place to study.
As the summer progressed, each of the girls opened up more and more in her emails to her roommate. They shared details of their developing relationships with the guys that had just met (in EB’s case) and gotten to know better (in Lauren’s), Elizabeth’s worries and hopes of running into her father in San Francisco, and Lauren’s family issues. EB’s personality made her a more open person, so it was easier to get to know her as a character, and to like her, than it was Lauren, who was more reserved and distant. But by the middle of the book, I liked Lauren just as much. Each girl had an interesting story and a full life.
I loved that this wasn’t just a series of email exchanges between the two future roommates. I have read a few books like that, and I liked them, but with Roomies there was also a story in between. It filled in the details and made for a richer story. While I wish there was more to the story — a series to follow them through four years of college, perhaps, because I like things like that — I think it’s best that Roomies is a standalone.