Tag Archives: Better Off Friends

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!)

        Ask Again Later           Nantucket Blue

The Selective Collective features BETTER OFF FRIENDS: “Boy Friend” vs Boyfriend

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The Selective Collective reads BETTER OFF FRIENDS by ELIZABETH EULBERG!

The Selective Collective features BETTER OFF FRIENDS by ELIZABETH EULBERG provided to us by Scholastic for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I had the fun freebie post and instantly, I knew I could relate to BETTER OFF FRIENDS! The story takes place in Wisconsin, not too far from Milwaukee and although I’m not from Wisconsin (I’m a Chicago suburbanite… probably much to Macallan’s dismay!), the Midwest charm of the book absolutely pulled me in and I could see little pieces of my own childhood and high school life in the book.

Before we jump in, here’s a little info on the book:

Better Off FriendsPublishing Info: February 25th 2014 by Point
Source: Physical ARC provided to us by Scholastic for review and use for the Selective Collective promotions

Book Synopsis: 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? — From Goodreads.com

BETTER OFF FRIENDS: “BOY FRIEND” VS BOYFRIEND

Freshman year Homecoming (2001)

Like Macallan, I had a male best friend growing up. It was my next door neighbor Steve which was pretty perfect that we were the same age because it was a great way to assimilate into the neighborhood when we moved there the summer before third (or was it fourth?) grade. I was pretty shy at first but before long, we were hanging out all the time, year round, sun, rain, or snow.

There were a lot of things that were cool about Steve. He knew all the guys in the neighborhood and it was the first time I really hung out with the boys. I went to a Catholic grade school so my class consisted of anywhere between 20-30 kids, usually hovering somewhere around 25 from pre-school all the way to eighth grade so getting to hang out with the public school kids was kind of a silly little thrill! I got to brag and said I knew kids from the public school (that was always something to be jealous of!) and we had a group of boys to hang around and bother when we wanted to be silly girls. But most importantly, Steve was my best friend.

There’s always that awkward best friend/more-than-friends zone. For us, it happened early on in our friendship (well, I guess as early as it can when you meet when you’re eight years old) and we started that awkward “I think we like each other” phase in sixth grade. We started “dating” when we were twelve and nothing much really changed except for the fact that we got little butterflies, held hands when we went on our walks around the block (and got teased by a random passer-by in the neighborhood), and Valentine’s Day became an actual event. (He got me a necklace with my birthstone which I actually still have today.) I even got to go to his Bar Mitzvah as his girlfriend which was a pretty awesome thing! (And again, hang out with the public school kids!) We even had “our song” that we danced to at the Bar Mitzvah. (It was “Back at One” by Brian McKnight in case you were wondering.)

High school graduation (2005)

We finally had our first kiss after months of dating. It was New Year’s Eve 1999 and probably sometime around 8pm. I came out in my pajama pants and we just hung out for a while outside (Yes, we often hung out outside in the winter. It was just what we did. As an adult, I don’t know how we could stand the cold!) and I think we had even talked about what was going to go down that night (In my head, I picture us texting which obviously isn’t right. We must have talked on the phone.) because I remember being so nervous going outside to meet him. We kissed on the side of his house very quickly, both of us extremely nervous and history was made. My first kiss!

The relationship lasted eleven months which seems like a really long time for a couple of twelve and thirteen-year-olds but I guess when your relationship consists of hand-holding and one kiss, there’s not much at risk! We broke up in seventh grade (which I think was my doing… oops) and it was really hard to be around each other for a while. I avoided him for probably a week and then eventually got over myself and we resumed our care-free friendship.

My 21st birthday

We hung out all the time and he was my sort of transition from Catholic school to public school when I started at the local public high school freshman year. I relied on him heavily and pretty much the only people I knew were kids from the neighborhood! It didn’t take long to make friends in high school but I always had Steve to hang out with and it was a special bonus when we had classes together. It was a relief to have him in my Honors English class freshman year so I already knew a friendly face and again when we had Geometry together sophomore year!

Like Macallan and Levi, we actually went to Homecoming together freshman year! We were both single and I barely knew anyone when we started high school so it was kind of perfect for us to go together. I really can’t remember how the dance went but I think I was a bad date! Half of the high school dances run together, but I think that was a time where I spent more time with my friends than my date.

We had a couple run-ins where the “feelings” started to come back which made for some awkward note-passing times in Geometry but I tried to pretend that didn’t happen because I loved my best friend but I didn’t have the “feelings” back! Ever since then, we still stayed friends. We’ve always had our own inside jokes, nicknames for each other, and hung out all the time — both at school and at home — so like Macallan and Levi, we also had those moments where people would say, “Why don’t you just date already?” The thing was in our situation, we could actually say, “Been there! Done that!” We were good friends all throughout high school although we drifted just a bit since we developed our own interests, had different extra curriculars and formed friend groups outside of our neighborhood gang. I even visited Steve a few times when we were both in college and we’re still friends today, although we don’t really talk as much. He’s in graduate school in West Virginia so we rarely talk anymore but we still hang out when he has the rare opportunity to come back home!

My story isn’t exactly like Macallan and Levi’s but I could surely relate and it was fun having that kind of connection to BETTER OFF FRIENDS! Do you have a “best boy friend”? Did that ever turn into a relationship or were you truly “better off friends?” I’d love to hear your own stories in the comments!!

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of BETTER OFF FRIENDS so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Author Q&A and Giveaway!
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Review: Better Off Friends
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Casting Call: Better Off Friends
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Round Table: Better Off Friends