Reading “New House 5: How a Dorm Becomes a Home” made me feel rather nostalgic for college and dorm life. I spent four years living in a dorm, yet I never experienced anything like the community Andy and his residents created. Part of that was my own reluctance to get involved -- I was the typical loner, against “fake friendship”, just like some of the students in this book. But I also think that communities like this don’t come along every day in dorms, and that New House 5 was special.
Looking back at my college career, I can’t remember the names of any of my RAs. But I will remember Andy’s name. His tone was somewhat preachy at times, but I could tell he cared about each of his residents, and just wanted the best for them. The dialogue stood out to me too -- there were a lot of “dudes” and “mans,” and that seemed a bit fake, but that could just be Andy’s natural way of speaking.
Sometimes it was hard to keep track of all the residents. Instead of trying to tell a story about each of the fifty-six residents on his floor, Andy focused on a few, which was a smart move. I still got mixed up because some of the names were very similar, and in that, I wish he would have chosen different names for the students. A list of students and a one sentence summary for each would be a nice addition to the book, like a dramatis personae.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Once I got into it, I wanted to keep reading, to find out what happened to each resident. I think “New House 5” would be a great read for freshmen about to start college, who may be worried about dorm life. I know I was scared about living in a dorm, because I’d never lived with anyone other than my parents, and I didn’t have many friends in high school. I didn’t know if I’d get along with other people, or if I would fit in.
Some of the residents of New House 5 felt the same way. That’s another great thing -- chances are anyone who reads this book will be able to identify with at least one of the students. There’s a good mix of personalities, from loud and obnoxious to quiet and considerate, and everything in between. In the end, all of the residents learned that there’s someone always there for them, even if they don’t think they have any friends.
“New House 5” is a smooth, easy read. I felt as though I had known Andy and the other students for years, thanks to the conversational style. Andy was also unflinchingly honest about some of the mistakes he made as an RA, such as not telling someone higher up when one of his residents was a danger to herself. I liked that he didn’t gloss over his mistakes but admitted to them, which helped me feel even more like I knew him.
When “New House 5” came to an end, both as a book and as a floor, I was sorry to leave everyone behind.
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author for review. This did not influence my review in any way.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)