Friday, May 22, 2015

BETTER OFF FRIENDS by 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?

At the very beginning of Better Off Friends I was nervous that it would be a seventh/eighth grade romance novel the whole way through, falling more under the genre of an eye roller than a YA contemporary. But I was pleasantly surprised by what Eulberg did with this book - instead of having Macallan and Levi meet for the first time at age sixteen or seventeen and deciding that they liked each other, it starts way back in seventh grade, where their friendship first begins. They are strictly friends for years, though in eighth grade some romantic tension starts to develop (only slightly) but it was there nonetheless. Considering the only real crush I have ever had was in eighth grade, I was able to relate to this. Oh, eighth grade romances.
Now let’s talk about the characters. As I have mentioned before, I am a very character motivated reader. If a book has an iffy plot but wonderful characters, I like the book. And Macallan and Levi didn’t disappoint. They were very real to me, and I loved how their weaknesses were shown and mentioned just as much as their strengths were. They weren’t “made for each other” nor were they attracted to one another simply because of looks. They liked each other because they knew each other and they liked who they were. Of course they had occasional problems, as to be expected from any relationship, but they worked it out eventually.
Aside from being relatable, I felt that both characters were great protagonists and role models. Macallan and Levi had a respectable relationship that was definitely something to aspire to. After all, I have always thought it better to be friends before pursuing a romantic relationship.
One last thing that really did it for me with this book -  the lack of profanity. I'm not a big fan of strong language (and strong for me may be considered mild for many others) but because I read Young Adult novels, it's only be expected that I would run into a lot of profanity in what I read. If I am remembering correctly, this book had a complete lack of such language. Along with this, the jokes remained pure (with the exception of two mildly mature cracks) and funny. I never once felt uncomfortable during the reading of this book.
All and all, I loved this book. I would give it five stars if it had had a bit more substance and originality. But because it was a lot like other books that I have read in this genre, I have to give it four stars. It may have just been that I have been in desperate need for a lot of fluff novels lately (for whatever reason) that I liked it so much, but nonetheless, it was an entertaining read.

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