Thursday, February 6, 2014

Better Off Friends (Early Book Review)

Thursday, February 6, 2014 12:48 AM with 18 comments

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Better Off Friends

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Number of Pages: 288

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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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MY THOUGHTS:

Late 80s/early 90s Meg Ryan was one of my favorite actresses. Sleepless in Seattle, The Doors, Joe Vs. the Volcano, Innerspace. I loved these movies and could watch them again and again. The best Meg Ryan movie is the well-known gem When Harry Met Sally. I've seen this movie probably a hundred times (and that really probably isn't even that much of an exaggeration). Most of my peeps will know exactly what I'm talking about, but for you young 'uns--When Harry Met Sally is a late 80s film that asked the age old question: can a man and a woman really just be friends? This film is so awesome and cute and romantic and funny that just typing this is making me want to watch it again. If you haven't seen it, please look it up. You won't regret it. So why am I talking about this film? Because this book is basically that, updated and teen-ified. I loved it.

Better Off Friends follows Macallan and Levi spanning from middle school into high school. I loved that we got to watch their friendship over the span of a few years. The two first meet when Levi moves to chilly Wisconsin from California while the two are in middle school. Levi, rocking long surfer hair, is a bit afraid to be starting at a new school and is finding it hard to connect with his male classmates. Macallan is still recovering from the death of her mother a few months before the start of our story. Macallan is tapped by the administration to give Levi a tour of the school which she doesn't feel up for, at all, but when she sees him sitting alone at lunch she cannot help but feel bad and invites him to sit with her and her friends. The two find a bond with a mutual love for a British TV show called Buggy and Floyd that no one else seems to know about, and before you know it they become best friends. 

Their friendship isn't always easy, of course, Levi starts dating one of Macallan's best girl friends, and both deal with the occasional twinges of jealousy and speculation about whether or not they should be more. Their friendship is especially tested once Levi is accepted into the group of jock boys after he makes the football team in high school and starts spending less and less time with Macallan, but they always seem to find their way back to each other. 

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the way that their families become intertwined, as well. Macallan's father is a wonderful parent, but it is hard for him to work and be a single father. He has some help from Macallan's uncle--who has a mild mental disability--but he learns to lean a bit on Levi's parents, his mother especially. I loved Levi's mom. She really takes Macallan under her wing which is exactly what the younger girl needs. I adore it when mothers are normal in YA. It happens so rarely.

My favorite part of the novel is the way in which each alternating chapter ends with a "conversation" between Macallan and Levi. This, too, echoes When Harry Met Sally which has these cut-aways to true stories of older couples explaining how they met. My cooperating teacher used this clip during my student teaching last semester when discussing: What is Love? before starting Shakespearean sonnets. The stories are real, but the people on screen are actors. If you have a minute, it is seriously so sweet.


So can boys and girls just be friends in this story? You'll have to read it to find out. I'll leave it at this: I loved the whole book. I loved Macallan. I loved Levi. I loved their friendship. I've read all of Ms. Eulberg's books, and while I have enjoyed them all, this one is definitely my favorite. It was cute without being cutesy and just fun to read. Highly recommended.

18 comments:

  1. I finished this book last week and absolutely LOVED it. I am so glad you enjoyed it too. One of my favorite aspects were the conversations between Macallan and Levi at the end of each chapter too. When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies, so I knew I was going to be a huge fan of this book. Fantastic review!

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    1. The conversations were the best. I'm so glad this lived up to my expectations. I'm happy you enjoyed it, too. I'll definitely check out your review. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I've really wanted to read this for so long! Great review, Natalie! :)

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    1. Thanks, Becca! I really enjoyed this one. I hope you, too. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Oh man, this one sounds so cute on so many levels! I adore When Harry Met Sally, it's so cute. I'm looking forward to this one now!

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    1. It is so cute. I loved it. If you like When Harry, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Yay!! So happy you loved this one! I know we've both been really excited about reading it. I wasn't planning on starting it until next week, but I may just have to move it up a bit :) That video is so cute! I love hearing cute old couples' stories.

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    1. Definitely give it a bump. :) It's so cute and super quick. Isn't that video the best? It brings a smile to my face every time. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I haven't read any of Elizabeth Eulberg's books yet, but I think I'm going to start with this one. I've heard lots of goods things about it, and your comparisons to When Harry Met Sally make me really excited to read it. And I adore that clip. :)
    -Rachel

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    1. None of them are connected, so this is a great one to start with (although I do also think it is the best one, so the others may disappoint after reading it). It is very similar to WHMS. Just the whole look at the dynamics of a male/female friendship. I love that clip, too. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Aw, this sounds really good! I love how you said that there were chapters that ended with a "conversation" between Macallan and Levi, and I'm glad you loved it! *Adds to TBR list*

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

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    1. I loved the conversations between the two characters. I hope you love this if you do give it a try. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. I've heard of When Harry Met Sally but never seen it. This book sounds so sweet I can't wait to read it. I like the fact that both characters family's play a positive roll in the book so many books don't include family or portray them poorly.

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    1. WHMS is the best. It's one of my all-time favorite movies. Definitely give it a try if you have a free afternoon. The fact that both families cared about their kids and were around was a huge plus for me, too. I hate the way that parents are usually portrayed in YA. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I thought this one was really cute, too, and I definitely got the When Harry Met Sally vibe, as well. I feel tragically old that this would probably be considered a "classic" among the youngsters. :( But you hit on everything I loved about this book: the family involvement, the little snippets of convo between Macallan and Levi, and the examination of whether two people of the opposite sex can truly have a platonic relationship. This was my first Eulberg book, but it definitely won't be my last...I adored this story.

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  9. When Harry Met Sally was one of my favorite movies and like you, I've seen it so many times I can basically say every line. And so I knew I had to read this book and I really enjoyed it. I loved the fact it took place over a five year period, which is so unusual with YA novels. I loved how much they knew each other and had all of these inside conversations, but then they were so dense about each other as well. The different timing issues that came up, etc. And I did love those conversations from the present while they were reminiscing, but it was really difficult to tell who was talking, I have to say. So glad you enjoy it!! ~Pam

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  10. I loved this one, too, I think it's my favorite book of 2014 so far. I completely agree with you about how great it was that their families became intertwined, I thought that was a great addition to the story and in my mind I've created this whole life for Macallan and Levi and their families in like 10 years :)

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  11. Your excellent RomCom reference just bumped this one way up my TBR! When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorites too. This book is now irresistible to me! I was just about to start Red Rising, but now I'm feeling conflicted! :P

    Sabrina @ I Heart Y.A. Fiction

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!