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?
(via Goodreads )
My rating: 3/5 stars
Pros: Good characters, good relationships, good writing, quick read, minimal drama
Cons: Not too surprising, not defying of all tropes expected
I rarely buy a book solely because of its author but I have enjoyed a couple of Elizabeth Eulberg’s other books: The Lonely Hearts Club and Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality. The latter particularly impressed me because of how it defied all usual tropes and all of my expectations of what would happen in the book. I admit that when I picked up Better Off Friends, I expected similar trope-defying. I expected a book that showed that men and women really can be friends. That male/female friendships don’t have to lead to romance. And I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed when that wasn’t the story that I got. However, the story as it is was cute enough that I could forgive it for feeding into the myth that men and women can’t be just friends. Though I’m all for defying tropes, I’m also a sucker for a good friends-to-lovers story. And this one was certainly a good one.
Let me start off with the characters.
Macallan–whose name alone makes her stand out– does share some characteristics with other YA characters. In the beginning of the story, she’s still recovering from her mother’s death. She welcomes the new school year because of the distractions it will provide her. When she goes to school, she’s given the task of showing around the new student who happens to be Levi. What’s funny about their situation is that (in my opinion, anyway) they defy a good number of YA tropes. Usually, relationships in YA are made up of a broody boy and a girl who, while she may have her own problems, helps bring light into the boy’s life. Now don’t get me wrong. I love those couples, despite the problematic ideas they may feed into. (I.E. No matter how much you love someone, your love can’t ‘fix’ them or give them more self-esteem or solve all their problems. All you can do in reality is love and support them.) However, it was nice to see a couple where the girl is the broody one and the guy is the one who brings light back into her life. It shows that having deep sadness and not always knowing how to deal with it isn’t a solely masculine trait and that being a positive influence that makes someone happy isn’t a solely feminine trait.
Levi, as I mentioned before, is not the typical broody YA guy. He’s actually a bit nerdy, a bit awkward, and though he’s friendly he doesn’t fit in too much with the popular crowd. In fact, he hangs out mostly with Macallan and her friends. Though he tries to make guy friends, he has trouble finding male friends who will fulfill his emotional needs in a friendship as well as Macallan does. The fact that Levi was a sensitive soul without being broody was definitely a nice change. It showed that it is possible for a guy to be sensitive, to have emotions, without brooding over it. Levi never tries to change who he is either and I respect him for that.
The friendship and eventual romantic relationship between Macallan and Levi is super cute and definitely a good, healthy relationship. The two of them communicate with each other very well for most of the story. When they do have communication issues or fights, said issues tend to be resolved in a mature way once they talk to each other. This was also very refreshing, as YA couples tend to just not talk to each other and then when they finally do, just cause more drama. Don’t get me wrong, the drama is entertaining. However, it is nice to see a story where teenagers are mature and capable enough to have a relationship without such dysfunction. Although there is drama and conflict in Macallan and Levi’s story, it is not over the top which is a welcome change.
The writing in this book is also great. It really enables you to see into the character’s heads. Macallan and Levi both have distinct voices that are easy to differentiate from each other. The writing also makes this book one that you simply can’t put down. This book is a very quick read. In fact, I finished it in one sitting.
This book is good and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a cute, light, quick read where the characters defy some YA conventions.