Christina Lauren have done it again with Roomies, which is a glorious combination of realism, wit, and romance.
Holland has what at first appears to be a hopeless crush on a subway musician, Calvin. When she experiences one of every female New Yorker’s worst nightmares, Calvin is her knight in shining armor. It seems likely that she’ll never see him again after that–until her uncle’s musical needs a new band member. From there, things spiral into a somewhat odd fairytale.
Warning: slight spoilers ahead!
Calvin wows the entire team, but their job offer forces him to reveal that he’s an undocumented immigrant. Holland’s manager jokingly suggests that she marry Calvin so that he can be authorized to work and get his green card. In a move that makes her absurdly brave and very impulsive, Holland arranges it and marries a complete stranger who she’s been fantasizing about for months. What could possibly go wrong?
The results of the union alternate between hilarious, cringeworthy, and heartbreakingly true to life.
Personally, I’m really drawn to Holland. Some of her thoughts echo mine, especially as a writer. In fact, it was downright weird sometimes how relateable she felt. (Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to woo any gorgeous, accented subway musicians lately, so our similarities end there.)
While trying to help Calvin towards a brighter future, Holland has to take a hard look at her own life and choices and whether or not she’s willing to take a risk on herself. As an aspiring author in my almost mid-twenties (sigh), I feel her internal struggles on a spiritual level.
“I need to fill my life with accomplishments I create, not just witness.”
At its core, Roomies deals with some real and difficult issues, with immigration being central among them. Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past year or so is well aware of how incendiary immigration has become as a political talking point, and Holland and Calvin’s experience is not a unique one in the American story. I like that the novel tackled such a huge topic without making it overwhelmingly heavy. It’s a thought-provoking story, yet still hopeful.
This is, hands-down one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year. It’s a close second to Autoboyography, which remains my favorite C.L. book.