Today, I'm reviewing Elizabeth Eulberg's fantastically charming, Better Off Friends.
Elizabeth is one of those authors where I know I can never go wrong reading one of her books, and she totally proved that to be true again in this case.
Published February 25th 2014 by Point
Format read: E-ARC via NetGalley
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?
When Harry Met Sally had been one of the first classic comedies I watched when I was younger, and I couldn’t wait to see how Eulberg’s book would compare. Unsurprisingly, in true Eulberg style, it was completely amazing.
In Better Off Friends, Eulberg introduces us to Levi and Macallan, two seventh-graders who are prepared to dislike each other on sight, but quickly find out that they have more in common than they could possibly have imagined.
Common interests turn into friendship, and friendship quickly crosses the divide into the most exclusive territory of all: the BFF. Levi and Macallan, to the amusement, confusion and hope (!) of the people in their lives, quickly become steady best friends.
Eulberg skillfully navigates and alternates between Levi and Macallan’s POVs through several years of their friendship, ushering in friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, school, family problems, as they begin to slowly but surely come to the realization that they like each other.
Though the character development for the two leads sometimes feels underdeveloped due to Eulberg’s decision to use alternating perspectives and the shorter length of the book, the overall charm of the story is undeniable.
Readers will enjoy watching the genuine, no-holds barred relationship develop between the two main characters, and how both Levi and Macallan learn to love each other’s best and worst traits. Eulberg does a great job of not only showing the evolution of their friendship, but also the natural ebbs and flows that come with any relationship.
She also does a great job with her emphasis on friendship and family in secondary characters as well. Eulberg surprises in how she chooses to handle some of the storylines, and I think readers will definitely appreciate the change.
Of special note: There's a strong emphasis on family throughout the book, which I think both younger and older readers will appreciate. Eulberg touches briefly on the idea that family love (of all types) is just as strong and magical as romantic love, and I think it's a great lesson for all readers.
Read this if you want a book that makes you smile, laugh and cry, but read this if you also want a book that makes you remember the genuine joy in having a friendship where someone just understood you in a way that made you realized they were your true soul mate - in more ways than one.
I recommend this book for all fans of YA contemporary fiction, but especially for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Meg Cabot and Maureen Johnson.
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