Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: February 25, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way. Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?"At the beginning of 7th grade, Macallan is assigned to a new boy at school, Levi, with the hopes of introducing him to teachers, students, and showing him around the school. Levi is a little weird at first. He has long hair, is from California, and is really interested in fitting in, but instead, he finds himself hitting it off with Macallan. They both love an obscure British television show, love to engage in witty banter, and plus, their families immediately hit it off. As the years go by, they remain steadfast friends, through the ups and downs of high school, dating other people, the inevitable betrayals that high school brings, but there's one trial that ultimately tests their friendship: it's the big question lurking in the background. Can they Levi and Macallan ever be more than best friends or is it just too complicated? Elizabeth Eulberg's Better Off Friends is an adorable contemporary romance that tugged on my heartstrings and is a light, feel good read that I thoroughly cherished.
Macallan is a complex gal in Better Off Friends. Her background is a sad one; she lost her mom tragically in an accident and now it's just her and her dad. When she meets Levi, they not only form an instant bond, but his family takes her under their wing. As the years go by, Macallan becomes very close to Levi's mom and it helps to solidify Levi and Macallan's strong friendship. As middles school fades to high school, they both have to deal with each other dating people and Macallan has to cope with Levi trying to fit in with the popular football players. Their friendship has many ups and downs which I found to be very realistic to many friendship in high school, especially when you are faced with the whole "can men and women actually BE JUST friends" dilemma. Plus, in high school you are just trying to figure everything out and one thing I liked was the fact that Macallan's journey takes her to Dingle, Ireland, where her mother's family lives. This made me squeal with excitement. I love Dingle (one of my favorite places in the world), so I was pleasantly surprised by this brief, but important change in setting.
Levi in Better Off Friends is straight up awesome. I instantly loved him and his witty banter with Macallan was right up my alley. He was totally channeling a Pacey Whitter vibe, which I am a sucker for to this very day. As Levi tries to assimilate into Wisconsin culture, he wants to play more sports, like football, which exposes him to the popular group of boys in school. Levi's transformation tested his friendship with Macallan as well as the fact that girls really liked him, including one of Macallan's close friends. I really enjoyed the character of Levi and although I didn't always agree with his choices, I was a fan.
So, in Better Off Friends you know that Macallan and Levi belong together, but you aren't sure how they get to that happy ending. At the end of each chapter, Eulberg provides readers with some present day witty banter between Levi and Macallan which clues the readers into that inevitable happy ending you were hoping for. I absolutely loved this and it reminded me of When Harry Met Sally and how the interviews of various couples (including Harry and Sally) framed the flashbacks and story lines of the movie. Eulberg employed that same concept and it was perfect. Plus, each chapter alternated between Levi and Macallan's perspective and this was also very well done.
So, if you are a fan of the Pacey/Joey type of romance where they are best friends first and if you are like me and are a huge fan of When Harry Met Sally, then you must check out Better Off Friends. It's without a doubt one of my favorite books of 2014.