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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better Off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point/Scholastic
Released: February 25, 2014
Page #: 278
Source: ARC from the publisher

"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 Lines: (Quote from the galley, see final version for edits)

"I was probably the first kid ever excited for summer to be over. There was too much free time that summer, which can lead to too much thinking, especially for a loss-stricken eleven-year-old."
Page 3

This is probably one of the biggest questions in the universe. Can guys and girls be just friends? And are they really just friends on both sides, or does one always like the other more? I feel like this has never been answered in the history of the world. Guess it's different for everyone.

For Macallan and Levi, their friendship is instant. They bond over a tv show and they just never let up from there. A friendship that starts in middle school will always be tested once you get to high school and beyond. Things change, friends change, relationships change... and these two are facing some of the biggest decisions in life. Now that they are starting to feel more deeply about each other, will they take things to another level or try to keep their best-friendship in tact?

I imagine that this is one of the most relatable topics for anyone, anywhere... ever. Hasn't everyone had that friend that they sort of wondered would be more? Ahem, maybe this is just relatable to me. :) Anyway, it's an interesting topic and I was wondering how the author would handle it. I don't know that I love how things ended up, but I'm not going to spoil that for you here. It just wasn't what I was expecting.

Also, there are asides at the end (or beginning) of each chapter in the form of IMs or Texts or something between the two main characters. It's as though they are writing this story together and looking back on those times with either fondness or despair. But it's unclear where they are looking back from... are they adults? Are they just immediately after this story happens? It's a little like the adult looking back on their stupid mistakes as a teenager. I'm not sure how that's going to read for an actual teen. Preachy? I'm not sure how much those added to the story - and I kind of thought they weren't needed.

Beyond that, I thought this was an interesting story. It does cover a lot of ground. You start in seventh grade and it goes pretty far through high school. That's a lot of time in such a short book. I guess I'm not sure I understand the need to pull in that much of the story. You do need to know where the characters have come from to know why they way they are. I just wonder if there was a different way to do that. When they were in the young stages, I sort of had a hard time remembering that they weren't older teens.

So, with all of that being said, I still liked the story. I loved the relationship between the main characters. I love the realistic way that they dealt with relationships with people outside of the two of them. It seemed very authentic. So that was well done and I know a lot of romance lovers who will really get into this story. It obviously wasn't my favorite for some formatting and general storytelling reasons, but I think this one will find a home with those chick lit girls.
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