Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Pages: 288
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: February 25, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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.

16 comments:

  1. I think I will LOVE this book Christina, particularly Levi and his Pacey Whitter vibe. I was madly in love with Pacey in high school, and always rooted for him over Dawson! I like that we get some present-day banter between the two of them at the end of the chapter so you know all will be well in the end, I need my HEA!!!

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    1. Yes, me too! I always was rooting for Pacey. :) I think you would definitely like this book. Thanks for visiting, Jenny!

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  2. Oh this sounds like a winner. Like it would be great as an audio too! I heart witty banter.

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    1. Yes, the audio version I'm sure would be awesome! I hope you get to read it, Juju. Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. Side note: I SO have When Harry Met Sally sitting on my TV stand waiting for a watch. I was missing it lately and checked it out from the library.

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  4. Thanks so much for this wonderful review. I can't wait to pick this book up. I'm so excited to read it. I love your blog by the way. Underrated Books

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    1. You're welcome, Justin. I hope you get to read the book soon. Thank you for the kind thoughts. It means a lot.

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  5. I would not have expected this to be such a good book, but it sounds like a real gem! When an author can inject wit and humour into a profound story, you've got me hooked! Wonderful review, girl :)

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    1. You would love the witty banter and humor…so great! Thanks for visiting, Melissa. I hope you are unpacked and getting settled in your new home!

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  6. Love, love, love the sounds of this one. It sounds SO cute! I couldn't get this one on Netgalley so I have to invest in a hardback as soon as it releases. I'll definitely be reading this one. Great review, Christina!

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    1. It is SO cute. I think you would really like it, Leanna! Thanks for visiting!

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  7. I kind of love stories about best friends who fall in love - it's just so sweet / romantic :)

    Glad to hear the POV's were well done, and that the story is one of your favorites of 2014! I hope my library gets this one after it releases.

    Incredible review :)

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    1. Me too….that is part of the appeal of this story. I love when people are friends first. I hope you get to read it soon, Lea! Thanks for dropping by!

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  8. Pacey! I'm such a sucker for that dude to this day, too. I really enjoyed this one. I loved the way the families became intertwined (and that the parents actually cared for their kids). I loved the little exchanges a la WHMS. I loved both characters. Such a cute book. Yay! Great review!

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    1. Me too. I am a huge Pacey fan. :) The parents are great in this story, which is nice to see in YA because, as you know, that isn't always the case, much like real life. :) It was such a cute book though--definitely pick it up this spring! Thanks for visiting, Natalie.

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