May 21, 2014

Review: Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Point
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC from ALA
(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest
review. No favors were exchanged, my opinions are my own.)
First Reaction: Absolutely adorable - hit a bunch of personal notes for me.
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?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


Levi and Macallan are best friends. And they think they're just best friends. But can a boy and a girl be just best friends? Or are Levi and Macallan destined to be something more?

Let's break this down:

The best, best, best thing about this book is the homage to the movie When Harry Met Sally. In the movie, there are these scenes of couples talking about their relationships stuck in between different bits of Harry and Sally's story. Better of Friends is a book told in past tense and, in between chapters, we get a glimpse of present-day Levi and Macallan and it's just so cute and different from all the other YA contemporary out there. I just can't get enough.

Yeah, so Levi and Macallan are adorable together, but they're also characters you'll love separately. Macallan is fierce and determined and stubborn while Levi is pretty chill and just wants to fit in. They're sort of opposites but the kind of opposites that compliment each other. They make each other better and they love each other and have that shared past you can't make up with anyone you've just met.

Oh, have I gone back to them be adorable together? What can I say? I ship it.

But seriously, both characters were witty and funny and kind, and then they came together to make one awesome whole, both in friendship and in romance - which I guess is spoilers, but I think we all knew they'd end up together. It's the journey of how they got there that's the magic.

And there really is magic on this journey. And misunderstandings. And other significant others. Because the path to what you really want is never that clear and Levi and Macallan exemplify that perfectly. This book is the perfect amount of angst, drama, embarrassment, sadness, misunderstanding, sweetness, and love.

As for me? I don't think this book proves boys and girls can't just be friends, nor does it aim to. And the truth is, I don't think anyone can definitively prove that. But in my experience, if I'm so close to a guy that I'm labeling him my best friend, I've at least seriously thought about it and probably had a crush somewhere down the line. That's just a level of closeness you can't get to without sharing a piece of yourself that means more than just the regular friendship. And I know, I might share the same piece with one of my female friends, but I'm also not attracted to girls. But guys who listen and go out of their way to take care of me and know everything about me? I dunno, seems like the short list for the swoon bus to me.

(Please note: I'm not trying to start a debate or get into a fight about boy/girl friendships. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I'm just putting mine out there, on my blog, because it's late, I'm tired, I've given it a lot of thought, and, oh, I can.)

The long and short of it?

Plot: What an adorable, fluffy little thing I want to just put in my pocket and take everywhere with me. Oh, and the dramatic stuff was just perfect.
World Building: The way Levi and Macallan fed off each other was just perfect. Oh, and, the little scenes in between chapters were even more perfect than perfect.
Character Development: This book starts when Levi moves to town in Middle School and goes through High School. Basically: it's a long stretch. A lot of things happen to and around our main characters but they both change and grow fantastically. I love them lots.
Prose: ADORABLE. (Is there any other way to describe an Elizabeth Eulberg book?)
Would I Recommend This Book?: This book is sure to make you laugh, smile, and maybe even tear up a little. If you love a good contemporary romance that plays with an old favorite movie, you should definitely give Better off Friends a read.

So, what do you think? Can guys and girls be friends? (No debate, just innocently asking!) What do you think of Levi and Macallan's friendship? Tell all in the comments below!