Town & Country editor Wu compiles a wide variety of tales about “an incredibly universal ritual that we can all relate to.”
At 27, the editor has shared living quarters with 20 roommates, and her curiosity surrounding the topic springs from the environments in which she has lived. In New York City, astronomical rents have forced young professionals and increasingly more members of the middle class to share housing—“the number of people residing in nonfamily households increased by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2010. Throughout America’s biggest cities, rising rents and an increasing age of marriage have allowed people to embrace roommates long past college graduations and the early twenties.” The author separates the stories into the categories of Growing Pains, Freshman Year, Student Struggles, Adventures Abroad, Recent Grads and Young at Heart. The ages of the roommates range “from a non-relative newborn child to a seventysomething with a proclivity for nudity.” Technology has played its part in the situation, as well. Though a handful of the stories take place more than two decades ago, pre-Craigslist, many illustrate how social networks, smartphones and texting have made finding a roommate much easier. The collection covers a wide emotional range, from funny to poignant to bizarre. Wu includes recollections regarding creative bullies, an alcoholic genius, a suicide attempt, a recovering addict, a kleptomaniac, pot smokers, a passive- aggressive personality and a down-on-her-luck widow running an escort service out of her apartment. The living environments are just as varied, and they include a Mormon household, a former gang headquarters, a yacht, a vacation home and an RV.
A fun, quick read that pulls back the curtain on the dramas, joys and quirky memories of living with roommates.