I've been going through a reading slump and was lamenting about it to Ames and Brie yesterday... If I don't read, I'm not doing much in the evenings and that's just sad. This morning, I finally figured what I could do: review, of course! Hopefully, I'll keep it up ^_^;
Today's review is one that I've wanted to write for a long, long time... After all, I've read this book back in February ^_^; Hopefully, it makes sense and you enjoy :)
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
published by Scholastic Press in February 2014
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.Genre: YA, Contemporary
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?
The Story: I like the blurb because it sums up Better Off Friends quite well. Basically, on their first day of school of 7th grade, Macallan is asked to show Levi around. Both have apprehension starting this new school year... Macallan has recently lost her mother in a car accident and needs something to distract her from her grief. As for Levi, his family has just moved from California to Wisconsin and while everything was good in California, nobody turns down the opportunity of a fresh start. When the two discover a common love for a TV show, they quickly bond and become best friends.
What Macallan and Levi learn in the next few years is that friendship is hard to maintain, especially as you grow... and it is perhaps even harder when it's between a girl and a boy. Having love interests is challenging... but what happens when you develop feelings for your best friend?
My Opinion: I have read all of Ms Eulberg's books in order of publication... and it seems that I've developed a pattern: I enjoy one, doesn't like the next, love again the one after and so on. As a result, I was really looking forward to Better Off Friends because according to the pattern, it'd be one that I would enjoy a lot... and so far, the pattern holds true LOL.
One of the things I liked best about Better Off Friends was the writing style :) I liked the alternating POVs between Macallan and Levi, but also that the story wasn't continuous. Instead, Ms Eulberg decided to show us the important moments of Macallan and Levi's friendship throughout the five years that the book spans. In that regard, this book reminded me a lot of Take a Bow, but perhaps even better because there's only two main characters. I liked this style because we got to know Macallan and Levi really well, but also it allowed us to explore their relationship more deeply.
Speaking of relationship, I think Ms Eulberg did a great job building this one. I liked that Macallan and Levi became friends at 11 years old instead of younger... It makes the dynamic different because they don't know all of each other's secret and also, but also because they're on the verge of big changes in their lives... and it was great to see their friendship endure and blossom :) I enjoyed seeing the ups and downs our two main characters went through and I thought it was very realistic. What added to the realistic feel is how well Ms Eulberg captured the confusion of Macallan and Levi and their maturity/immaturity.
All in all, Macallan and Levi were very likable characters :) I enjoyed reading their story and see how growth affected their friendship. I also liked seeing them falling in love with each other. So much in a romance is about timing and Better Off Friends was a good example.
My Grade: B+. I really enjoyed Better Off Friends and I think Ms Eulberg is at her best when she writes slices-of-life storylines :)