Better Off Friends – Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off Friends – Elizabeth EulbergTitle: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publishing Info: February 25, 2014 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 5, 2014
Related Posts: Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality, The Lonely Hearts Club

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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BETTER OFF FRIENDS was just plain adorable. I’ve only read one other Eulberg book before, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, so I was confident I’d love her writing style for this book as well and I certainly was not let down! Like REVENGE, BETTER OFF FRIENDS really displayed a great strength in friendships which with so many books focusing on romance (not that I have a problem with that), really good friendships, especially those between a male and a female character, tend to get lost in the background.

BETTER OFF FRIENDS is geared as a YA “When Harry Met Sally”. Well clearly I need to see this movie now. (I KNOW, I KNOW, I’ve seen a lot of 80s movies throughout my childhood and my life and yet I still have so many to cover. Gimme a break, I was three years old when the 90s took over!) It’s no secret though that I LOVE best friend to boyfriend romances because there’s just such a great foundation of friendship and it’s SUCH a big step to decide to switch from friends to something more. Seriously. All the goosebumps for any romance like this.

One thing I really loved that I was actually surprised by was how much of a time period this book covered. The book kicks off in junior high, actually, when Macallan and Levi first meet after Levi moves to Wisconsin from California. I feel like I could have easily been hesitant that the book spent so much time while the two main characters were in junior high had I known it beforehand but A) I do love going into book blind and it really does work in my favor more often than not and B) I think it was absolutely perfect because the reader really gets to see their relationship from the beginning. I always appreciate seeing things chronologically, especially for contemporary books because sometimes flashbacks can get tiring or confusing. I had zero issues with starting things off in junior high and working forward to high school/”present day”. It’s also great because that really opens up the book to a younger age range as well. BETTER OFF FRIENDS is cute, clean, and fun so it can really appeal to a young audience as well as the older crowd. (I don’t know what I mean by old. Older teens? Adults? Clearly, since I loved it!)

I also really, really loved the dual narration in the book. I think it’s important to see things from both Macallan and Levi’s sides as the events in the book are playing out. It’s more exciting, more heart-breaking, and more interesting to really get both sides of the story and I felt like I connected with both characters equally instead of ending up on one side or the other. Especially with friendships possibly turning into romances, I think seeing both sides is vital because there are so many missed clues, misunderstandings, and potential arguments that the reader needs to see from each point of view so neither character gets thrown under the bus or ends up as the “bad guy”. I also loved how there were breaks in between chapters where Macallan and Levi took on more of a narrative role, interjecting their feelings and looking back on the events that had just happened in the chapters. It made me feel like these two were actual real people and they just couldn’t help but throw in their thoughts about how things were back then and make sure the audience is seeing the story straight. I actually have never seen that in a book before so it was really enjoyable and definitely an interesting change up!

BETTER OFF FRIENDS was adorable and so enjoyable. I think part of the reason why I loved it so much is that I easily related — and even if you hadn’t ended up having feelings for your best friend, I’m sure there’s been a situation that most of us have been in a where feelings complicated a friendship, whether it be from the guy’s side or the girl’s side. Another thing that really piqued my interest was that I legitimately didn’t know how it was going to end. Would Macallan and Levi end up in a relationship? Or did they finally decide that they really were better off friends? So how does it end? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!

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Macallan // Character Obsessions: Family, school, Buggy & Floyd, sarcasm.
I saw a lot of myself in Macallan. She seemed like a typical girl next-door that also has her own personal issues and past. I loved her attitude and how she handled situations with her friends… I feel like that was a lot of me when I was growing up so I really related to her a LOT.
Levi // Character Obsessions: Running, family, Buggy & Floyd, girls.
I loved Levi. Aren’t all Levis just adorable? I seriously think I’ve loved every single one I’ve met in a book so far. Anyway… I absolutely wanted to be best friends with him and let’s face it — Macallan never stood a chance. He’s definitely the kind of best friend you could totally fall for. (I did.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Friendships turned relationships. LOVE THEM. I love when characters start off as friends and start to fall for each other. For some reason it just feels so much more special to me. I think I just feel the butterflies so much more because there’s so much more at stake when you start to fall for your best friend. They already know so much about you too, so there is no getting-to-know-you stage… Just getting to know you more intimately and that can be scary! I seriously just wanted to smoosh Macallan and Levi together and make them kiss.
Left Me Wanting More: Setting. This book was set in suburban Wisconsin so I was trying to LOOK INTO the book to find places I knew haha! My sister lives in a suburb of Milwaukee so it was easy for me to picture the setting but I love when I see exact places and I can picture myself there. There were still plenty of fun, local references but you know I just love seeing more!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

BETTER OFF FRIENDS was adorable. Perfect for so many ages and just plain fun and cute. I love stories that just make me giddy and give me butterflies and this sure was one of them! I loved everything about it.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE BETTER OFF FRIENDS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

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14 thoughts on “Better Off Friends – Elizabeth Eulberg

  1. Candice @ The Grown-Up YA

    First off, don’t feel bad for not having seen When Harry Met Sally. I only saw it recently and I’m a child of the 80s! Also, not to be all “oh I’m so much older than you” but how weird is it that you were only 3 when the 90s started?! Way to make me feel like an old fart B! 🙂

    I really enjoyed this one and so glad we reviewed it for SC! I was a little nervous about it starting in middle school, I don’t think it could have been done any other way. Otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten to see all these years of an amazing BFF friendship! This book really makes me want to read more by Eulberg! 🙂

  2. Tina

    So glad you liked it! I just got a copy of this and I can’t wait to read it!!! (: I also love that it’s set in Wisconsin, since that’s where I’m from, and we don’t have too many stories set here (at least not much of what I’ve read)

    Great review!

  3. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook

    I’m just not sure if I want to read this. I do love the movie When Harry met Sally (do find time to watch it, Brittany!), and I really liked Eulberg’s The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudidice. But I actually was not a big fan of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, which makes me hesitant to read her newest.

    Maybe I will give it a try if it’s available as an audiobook. I’m so glad you liked this one, though. You should try Eulberg’s books I mentioned above. I think you would particularly like The Lonely Hearts Club because of the friendships formed in that book.

  4. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I am going to have to look into this one next time I’m in the mood for a really fun and cute read! I love how unique the writing style and format of this book seems. Although I would have been a little put off at first to read about middle-schoolers, you have convinced me that it actually makes the story better. Great review!

  5. Rachel

    Yes! I knew you’d love this one! It definitely wasn’t my kind of book, but I knew that those of you who like cute YA would really enjoy it. And don’t worry, I haven’t seen When Harry Met Sally either. 🙂

  6. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did! I like your point about the story being told chronologically and not in flashbacks. That’s a really good point and I agree that it made the story stronger. Even though like you I was surprised it started in junior high, I ended up really liking the junior high parts, too. (Maybe I should read more middle grade? Or not…lol.)

  7. Estelle

    Hi! I was not a huge fan of REVENGE so I am happy that FRIENDS brought me back into the Lonely Heart Elizabeth days. Lonely Hearts Club is still my favorite and I didn’t think this book was perfect (I didn’t actually like the interjections between the chapters) it really made me care about these characters a lot. I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and that doesn’t happen too often. (Like right now… haha)

  8. Molly | wrapped up in books

    I’m glad you liked this more than I did. I thought I would because I also love the best friends to lovers stories but it just fell flat for me. But you really have to see When Harry Met Sally! It’s hilarious.

  9. Pam@YA Escape from Reality

    I thought it was really cute, and I agree, I enjoyed the in-between the chapter parts where they were looking back and talking back and forth…that added so much to the story. I was amazed at the five year time period, I don’t know if I’ve seen that before in a YA novel, and again, it added so much because you get to really see their relationship develop. Definitely no insta-love here! They were such good friends, they had inside jokes, loved spending time together, basically considered each other family…and again, I don’t know if I’ve read a YA where the relationship was presented in this way. Great review!

  10. Nicole

    Woo looking forward to reading this one (which I will get to SOONish I hope!) The whole concept just sounds great, definitely relatable! And dual narration for the win! Can’t wait! Great review!

  11. Alexa S.

    I’m really excited to read BETTER OFF FRIENDS! I have enjoyed quite a few of Elizabeth Eulberg’s novels, as they’ve always provided me with fun contemporary reading experiences. Looking forward to seeing her take on the age old question of whether a boy and a girl can really be just friends 😉

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