Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication date: February 24, 2014
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review
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?
First line: I was probably the first kid ever excited for summer to be over.
This book. I had so much love for this book that I felt like my heart was going to start pumping out cupcake batter and the Happy Days theme song. There were annoyances throughout, but the conversation made everything worth it.
I do have to warn you right from the start that the ebook may be a little wonky. Hopefully they fixed it from ARC to publication, but if you bought the ebook, the formatting might be off. Every chapter ends with a adorable banter between the two characters, Levi and Macallan, usually reflecting on what was just told in the chapter. In the e-galley, it was hard to understand the switch since there isn't any heads-up before they switch from one tense to the other. Thankfully, I quickly got the hang of it and it never ruined my reading pleasure. In fact, it was my favorite part of the entire book.
The dialogue at the end sounds as if it's present-day Levi and Macallan and it shows why I love the chemistry between the two and why I love the conversations throughout the book. It has banter. Think of any positive word that's synonymous with wonderful and you just described the banter. At least, that's how it was for me. Many authors in YA do try to have their characters banter, be witty, and have this natural chemistry. Unfortunately, they fail. But fortunately for us, Elizabeth Eulberg doesn't! Unless Elsa from Frozen struck your heart with ice and you had no one to love, you will smile. You can't do anything, but smile, to be honest.
Levi moved from California to Wisconsin and on the first day of school, Macallan gets stuck with showing him around their junior high. They end up eating lunch together and with Macallan having to come over to his house every Wednesday (because neither her dad or uncle can pick her up that day), they eventually do become best friends. Through alternating POVs, every other chapter, and narrating from middle school to high school, we see their friendship progress. But does it actually progress into a relationship or not?
After bantering, what did I love the most about this book?
Family. Levi's parents are still happily married and completely normal, while Macallan's mom died and her mentally disabled uncle lives with her and her dad. After Macallan cooks one night for the both families, it becomes a tradition to have a family dinner together on Sunday nights. If authors ever complain about how it's hard to incorporate the positive family relationships without boring readers because they don't know how to or make it cliche, I will forever point to this book. The families aren't perfect. Levi's and Macallan's families aren't even blood, but they form a familial connection together that makes me sigh happily.
Best friends. Why did I never have a guy best friend? I have guy friends, most of them acquaintances, but never have a really close guy best friend and now I feel like I accomplished nothing in life. Wouldn't life be more fun with one? The chemistry between Macallan and Levi is incredibly cute that it's almost sickening. They're the type of best friends that everyone wishes they could be a part of, especially since they're best friends with the opposite sex.
The feel. Take note, the feel is different than the feeeeeels. The feels (note: it's plural) are the emotions involved and it causes the swooning to happen. It can squeeze your heart, make you twirl, and cause your toes to clench. The feel (note: no s on the end) is basically the atmosphere of the book. It's like walking around two different colleges. Each one has a certain feel to it. Better Off Friends had a fantastic feel. It was the perfect romantic-comedy movie in book form. Think 13 Going on 30 meets When Harry Met Sally with some additional love sprinkled on top.
There are a few annoyances that I hate even mentioning since I loved the book so much, but when I try to figure out if I should read something, I always want to know the good and the bad.
The other friends. Oh, I don't have a problem with the other friends specifically, but how Macallan in particular handled them. When Levi made his way into Macallan's life, he actually worked his way up into the #1 Best Friend slot. So? Well, she already had two close friends. Soon, I didn't care about one of them, but I was concerned about Danielle, the loyal one. She was always there for Macallan, supportive and loyal. We did see them spend time together, but I felt like Macallan used her at times when she and Levi hit a rough patch. Using friends annoys me, in fiction or in real life. When this issue popped up, I lost a little sympathy for Macallan since I was only worried that Danielle was being ditched.
Macallan. I did like Macallan overall, but she wasn't my favorite. From somewhat ditching Danielle to even acting self-righteous at times, I groaned at her attitude in parts of the book. Eulberg still made her likable with other characteristics, actions, and circumstances she was put in though. But I can think of a few people who will rate this book lower for her attitude in places.
Minor things that don't even matter anymore. 'Nuff said.
The whole point of this book is that it makes you wonder if guys and girls can really be just friends. Would Levi and Macallan be better off friends? Or should they become more? I won't spoil this for anybody, but I did sway in my own thoughts of how they should end up. By midway, I was firmly set in my decision...and I won't tell you what that was. Amazingly, even though it resembles a chick flick, it doesn't have a lot of romance. They date other people, they flirt some, there was the tiniest bit of action early on, but the majority of the book was about friends. Best friends. To put it simply, I liked that.
No, wait, I loved it.
Verdict: A really cute, really fun, really everything book that left me jealous of Macallan and reminded me why I love best friend stories.
Note: Any quotes may be changed in publication.