Better off Friends
2014 – YA – Realistic Fiction
The Story: Meet Levi and Macallan, best friends. Not so unusual, right? Actually, yes. Levi is a guy, Macallan is a girl – both are teenagers. Their friends and families have been expecting them to become a couple for years, while everyone else assumes they already are. Better off Friends chronicles the story of their friendship – from the first time they met on the first day of 7th grade through the end of their sophomore year.
The Opening Line: I was probably the first kid ever excited for summer to be over.
What I Loved: At the core, this is a story about friendship. There’s no magical realism, they aren’t fending off zombies, the world hasn’t ended. It’s simply a story about a guy and a girl who bond over wacky BBC shows and become friends after being thrown together in middle school. I love the friendly banter that Levi and Macallan engage in throughout the book – this is the sort of back and forth conversation that defines true friendships and that outsiders to the friendship just don’t understand. The banter seemed really realistic to me. It wasn’t forced or formal at all. Finally, I loved that the chapters switched between their perspectives. We saw both characters grow and learn and understand each other, which was really refreshing.
What I Didn’t Love: The ending. I won’t spoil anything here – except to say that no one dies, so don’t worry. After such a great glimpse into a friendship that would make anyone envious, I expected more from the ending. I understand that it can be hard to wrap up a story satisfactorily, but this one in particular felt cliched. It felt like Eulberg took the easy road out. I didn’t hate it, but I was kind of let down by it.
Final Thoughts: My last few books have been fantasy, horror, dystopian, etc., so this was a nice, light break from those types of stories. It was refreshing to read a novel in which the theme is simply friendship. It felt like a great book to read during the summer season. If not for the ending, this book would probably have garnered a perfect rating. Still, I would recommend it.