ARC Review – Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

17228280Title:  Better off Friends

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Rating: ★★★★

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?

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for the advance reader copy of this book.

River’s Review (4 Stars)

This book was SO cute. I was totally drawn in when I saw it was about opposite-sex best friends. From 8th grade until 2007, my best friend was a guy and I was in love with him. We went through a lot together and I was SO totally able to relate to both Levi and Macallan’s situations and feelings. Unfortunately my story didn’t turn out like theirs (I ended up dumping his ass after years of being unable to fully define and commit to what our relationship was) and that was a huge, painful, life changing thing. So I was really cheering for these two through the entire book.

I LOVED the characters. Levi and Macallan were both such strong characters. They both knew who they were and what they wanted (even when they weren’t being totally honest with each other). I loved their banter and their love for a fictional BBC TV show (at least I think it’s fictional?). I liked their fights and how they were resolved. And I loved their families. Macallan stood up for what she believed and Levi really struggled to find himself, and was able to. Both voices were fresh and realistic.

I thought this was really unique because it spans many years. The story starts off with the two in 7th grade and over the course of the book time covers up until their senior year of high school (I think, it might have been junior year). For such a short book it did that really well and I rather enjoyed reading about their young, pre-teen days.

This book has alternating chapters, but the voices are SUPER clear and I had no trouble keeping track who was speaking. Also, the artwork was SO cute (each chapter starts with an image of the boy or girl from the cover to indicate who’s POV it was). And at the end of each chapter the two characters are having a conversation and reflecting back on what was told in the chapter. I really liked these sections, but due to the formatting (probably just an ARC flaw) it was sometimes unclear (there wasn’t any indication that it had switched from the first person POV to the conversation) and I really hope that the final copy has something super cute to indicate the change.

The only thing that I didn’t really like was the ending. I was hoping that they were at their wedding or something, reflecting back and telling their story (hence the conversations at the end of each chapter) but it just kinda trailed off…

Sam’s Review (4 Stars)

This is my first Elizabeth Eulberg book, and I have to say this one was quite the pleasure and introduction. <i>Better Off Friends</i> explores a boy and girl friendship (how often does one get to write that?) and shows the complicated aspects of what that type of relationship entails, be it assumptions, over-protectiveness, and possible feelings. I loved how easy it was to fall into this story and how wonderful Levi and Macallan’s points of view felt. Eulberg writes this very natural, real story that is easy to relate to if you’ve been in this situation (something I have dealt with) and doesn’t fluff it up for the sake of tension.

First off, this book has a very fast-pace. It’s easy to engage with and there’s such a natural tone of voice for both our protagonists. We get a huge sense of how their friendship works and why they behave the way they do. Truthfully, I was a lot more fond of Levi’s chapters if only because it was nice to read a male point of view and it *feel* like a proper boy’s point of view. Levi is a darling, but he’s a complicated soul who’s a little dense when it comes to people’s feelings and emotions, where as Macallan is so much more heighten in ways that Levi could never be. I just, I loved them both equally and more so than I thought I would. Plus they met through the mutual love of a British television show — I can jive with that.

I really love how this story moves from 7th grade to high school and the progression of time doesn’t feel as though its rushed or forced. Everything about this novel has so much ease, but it’s downfall is its ending — it simply trails off without feeling entirely completed which was quite the bummer. Considering the time progression I felt like there should have been a bit more to tie everything up.

I don’t think this will be the last book I’ll read by Elizabeth Eulberg, and in fact, I think this one may just be the beginning of a potential author binge. This book is wonderfully sweet, smartly presented, and one that if you like contemporary, should be on your to-be-read pile.

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