ROOMIES by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
& My Roommate/Rental Story
The countdown to college has begun.
When Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment at the beginning of summer, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, mini-fridge. She can’t wait to escape her New Jersey beach town, and her mom, and start life over in California.
The first note to Lauren in San Francisco comes as a surprise; she had requested a single. But if Lauren’s learned anything from being the oldest of six, it’s that you can’t always get what you want, especially when what you want is privacy.
Soon the girls are emailing back and forth, sharing secrets even though they’ve never met. 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.
With humor and heart, Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist for Story of a Girl, and Tara Altebrando, acclaimed author of The Pursuit of Happiness, join forces for a novel about that time after high school, when everything feels like it’s ending just as it’s beginning.
- See more at: Hachette Book Group
Go see Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando in these cities:
- 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]
My Roommate/Rental Story: Take Pictures
After three years at UW-Madison and only one semester left before I would graduate, I needed a place to live. This was a problem. I had worked very hard, both academically and physically, getting great grades and holding two jobs during the summer plus working during the school year. I received very little financial support from family. Unfortunately, I did not qualify for financial aid because I was still considered a dependent and their income was too high. Yet, I was pretty much on my own.
My budget for housing was minuscule. Getting out of school and into the “real” world to work to support myself was a necessity of survival. One semester left! I knew I could do it. But I had to solve a major problem first, and that was finding a place to rent for September through December. In a college town like Madison, finding month-to-month leases aren’t easy. They cost a lot more. Most landlords want to keep tenants for an entire year. There was no way I could commit to that.
After an exhaustive search, I finally found a young woman who owned a house off campus. For $200/month, I could rent her spare bedroom. It seemed like a win/win. I had a place to live temporarily and she had help paying her mortgage. I’d have use of the bathroom and space in her refrigerator. Other than the guest bedroom, I was to stay out of the rest of her home. I wasn’t wild about her two German Shepherds—okay, the scared the crap out of me—, but she promised to keep them locked up and away from my things. At this point, I had no other housing option. I took it!
I never felt comfortable in her home. The dogs often got loose and I was terrified from their barking and snapping teeth. I tried to avoid them at all cost. I rarely put anything in the refrigerator and spent as much time away from “home” as possible. When I was there, I holed up in the room, door shut.
After graduation, I was so relieved to move out. During the inspection of my room, the owner accused me of causing the varnish on the floor to peel up. It came off in flecks, and now she was going to have redo the entire floor—strip, sand, and re-stain it. And how was she going to pay for this? With my security deposit.
I made several mistakes – and actually she did too. The biggest was that she didn’t have me fill in an inspection form before I moved in, and I didn’t know enough to ask for one. If I had, the flaking floor would have been a part of it.
Many arguments later, and with help from my boyfriend Jim, she grudgingly admitted that I didn’t do anything to “cause” the problem. I received my $200 security deposit back.
The best advice I can pass on to people about renting any space, whether alone or with roommates, is that you should photograph the space BEFORE you move in, write everything down, and pass on copies to your landlord. That way, when you moved out, you and the landlord can compare the pictures and notes to how the space is at the time you move out.
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