Better Off Friends

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Better Off Friends
Publisher
Age Range
12+
Release Date
February 25, 2014
ISBN
978-0545551458
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WHEN HARRY MET SALLY . . . for teens, from romantic comedy star Elizabeth Eulberg. 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?

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3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.2
Plot 
 
4.0  (3)
Characters 
 
4.3  (3)
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4.3  (3)
(Updated: February 21, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

A Cute YA w/ MG Appeal

A sweet and upbeat contemporary with light romantic comedy elements—one that bridges the maturity span between Middle Grade and Young Adult.

Levi starts out as a forlorn California transplant, struggling with Wisconsin’s climate and trying to fit in with the sports-obsessed guys at his new school. And Macallan is a responsible and pragmatic Midwesterner; having grown up too fast after her mother was killed in a car accident. Their unlikely connection begins when they discover they share a mutual love for an obscure British comedy, and steadily grows into a comfortable connectivity neither of them wants to live without.

The story is told from a dual POV, alternating between Macallan and Levi. (And here I have to commend the creativity; as the POV for each is marked not by the character’s name, but by a black and white image taken from a portion of the cover and placed at the start of each chapter.) Each chapter concludes with what appears to be a current dialogue between the two MCs, as they both reflect on the events of said chapter. (While this does soften an already low tension telling, it is also a unique way to augment the storytelling.) Eulberg’s prose is pleasantly readable, with vocabulary that struck out believably ahead of her character’s maturity levels. And the organic inserting of Irish/British terms added a fresh burst of flavor and culture I rarely find in this genre.

As readers will already guess from the title and blurb, the book does nothing to counter the prevailing perception that guys and girls can't be just friends. Still, the point seems to be more geared at the status of BEST friends; as it implies a level of mental intimacy that combines poorly with hormones. The ending is as predictable as you’d expect, but also as satisfying.

This reader appreciated the friendship vs. relationship conundrum for the most part. From early on its shown that Macallan connects with Levi and his parents on an adoptive familial level—particularly attaching to his mother as a sort of surrogate when the woman ends up being present and invested in events her own mother wasn’t alive to help her through. Their parents even become good friends. So it isn’t surprising that Macallan would be the most reserved over the idea of ANY changes to their unique dynamic—never mind the threat of causing undue tension and awkwardness between their families. She has the most to lose. On the downside, some readers may find Macallan frustratingly slow to know herself and make a decision.

Levi is sometimes a bit unconvincing as a male character—as his emotional state often more volatile than the heroine. (Granted the book spans ages 13-16, and that’s a shaky timeframe for most guys of the more sensitive persuasion.) Melodrama abounds as the two use casual dating (at the detriment of everyone around them) to distract from their conflicted feelings. In this respect, the pacing bogs down about the middle. But those desiring more of a mild soap opera feel may enjoy going around the same plot mountain a few times.

A solid recommendation for fans of the best-friends-turned-lovers trope and/or anyone looking to get off the insta-love bandwagon.

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Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

Sweet and Fun

I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Eulberg. Every time I sit down to read one of her books, I know I won't be disappointed.

What I loved: So many things. I really enjoyed the flip flop between Macallan and Levi. Their voices were distinct but it felt so natural to read both of their perspectives. They meet in seventh grade and the book follows their relationship over the next five years. The evolution of their friendship was fun to read. They had a natural, witty banter between them and it was fun to get lost in their conversations.

I LOVED how Eulberg was able to convey how complex their feelings for each other are. Everyone knows that relationships are not two-dimensional and there are many sides and feelings involved in each one we have. Because of the alternating POV's I felt like I was really inside of their heads and really understood how deep their feelings were. It made the story believable and and engaging.

What left me wanting more: Nothing. I love, love, loved it!

Final Verdict: If you are looking for a fun, sweet romance look no further.

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Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

Witty, Lighthearted, Feel-Good Romance!

This was my first Elizabeth Eulberg book and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on more of her words!

What I Liked: I love how significant this cover is! (I'm a cover dork, I can't help it.) This is a super cute story that takes an honest look at the ins and outs of friendship with the opposite sex. Macallan (loved the unique name) and Levi are best friends who meet in seventh grade and their relationship plays out over the course of five years. It's told through their alternating POVs and peppered with a running commentary that takes place in the present. Both are witty, funny and thoroughly entertaining characters!

Levi is laid back and craves attention while Macallan is confident and pulls no punches. Except for that one time... They balance each other out and it's obvious to everyone that they care very deeply for one another, but neither Macallan nor Levi seems ready or willing to take the leap from "friends" to something "more" because it could mess everything up.

And that would totally suck.

Like any relationship, these two experience plenty of ups and downs, a few of which made my heart hurt. It takes awhile for them to figure it all out and get on the same page. But they do eventually, and it's a lot of fun to watch.

What Left Me Wanting More: I wasn't expecting this to start out in Middle School and it threw me off a little especially since they didn't sound like typical Middle Schoolers. (I know. I spend hours with them every week.)

Final Verdict: Witty, lighthearted, feel-good romance!

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1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0  (1)
Characters 
 
3.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
4.0  (1)
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Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

Adorable and sweet

Yes... This was a totally predictable yet another teen romance... But I loved it.
It starts off when Macallan is in seventh grade and showing a new Levi from California around her new school. They become friends over a common interest in a tv show called Floyd and buggy and basically become inseparable from that point on. Okay... I admit some parts were completely sappy and way too fluffy... But then again, it's a teen romance so what else do you expect? Some parts were funny and I enjoyed those. The book spans from seventh grade all the way until senior year and I actually liked that. You could really see them grow up (kinda) and figure out themselves. Levi was an ass sometimes but I forgive him. Macallan stands up for herself which is yet another thing I admire about Elisabeth Eulberg. She's can write a girl who takes nothing from nobody and who, in the end, gets what she deserves

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