Review: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg


Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Point
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: DRC, Netgalley
Status: standalone


Summary:
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?


Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Before I begin, I just want to point out something that is mentioned a couple of times in Better Off Friends. Being a faithful daughter of Wisconsin, Elizabeth mentions "Culver's" a couple of times and also "butter burgers" and "cheese curds." This section is for all those of you who are unfortunately out of the know.

 This is Culver's. (Photo credit: wikipedia)
 
While I was reading Better Off Friends, I got a mad hankering for some Culver's so I drove 20 minutes to the one nearest to me. Sadly, in Dallas, there are only two, and they're not actually in the city of Dallas. Still, the drive was worth it because of this stuff right here <---. That, my friends, is a bacon cheese butter burger, cheese curds (you know mozarella sticks? Same thing but with Wisconsin cheddar), and a chocolate custard with oreo pieces mixed in. Sure, it's the same idea as Sonic or Dairy Queen or even Wendy's (Team Frosty!), but better because it's custard.
Yeah, Culver's is ridiculously Wisconsin-ish. This is basically the inside of every Culver's ever. Okay. Now you know what the heck Elizabeth is referencing, and hopefully you now have a craving for delicious food that is super bad for you too!

Review:
Better Off Friends is not my favorite Elizabeth Eulberg book, but it's still really cute and really fun to read, which is exactly what I expect from a Eulberg novel. The first good thing? The concept. Can guys and girls ever really be friends? Some say yes, some say no. Elizabeth really explores this idea with Maccallan and Levi's relationship. At times, the reader is led to believe that yes, Maccallan and Levi are 100% platonic; then in other scenes, it seems obvious that there must be something there. And isn't that just the way with guy-girl friendships? They evolve, which is pretty natural. I can't tell you how many times I've been insanely attracted to a guy at first meeting, then become friends. Or been friends with a guy only to develop feelings that are just a little...more. So yeah, I like the basis for the book.

Secondly, the execution is really well done. Normally, I'm not a fan of ya books that cover a long period of time because that usually means the progression of time is uneven. But with Better Off Friends, I think time flowed very naturally from Maccallan and Levi's first meeting. Staying just the right amount of time on each individual story and significant moment, Elizabeth hit all the high (and low) points of their relationship. She never cut off those shorter plot points, such as both their attempts at romance with other characters, too early or lingered too long. Years pass in this book, but I didn't feel cheated not witnessing the presents not recounted in this story.

The third part, which is probably my favorite aspect of Better Off Friends, is the inclusion of the conversations between Maccallan and Levi in between chapters. I do enjoy reading the actual story, but these scenes contain the best interactions between these two. You can always guage someone's relationship by just observing them in action. These short exchanges were nothing short of magical. They were the cutest, funniest, sweetest moments in the entire book. I wasn't always sure whether Maccallan and Levi would end up together, but either way, these talks were the highlight of my experience reading Better Off Friends.

I'm not exactly sure why this book didn't earn a full 5 stars from me other than the fact that I wasn't wholly sucked into it like I need to be for a 5 star. I'm not entirely sold on the ending. I don't want to spoil it for you guys so I won't say whether Maccallan and Levi do end up together or whether they really are better off as friends, but for me, I just don't know if I see them as what the end up as, be it friends or boyfriend and girlfriend. Something just felt slightly off to me. Also, not a critique, but I will definitely need to read this in a physical form. I love receiving digital copies of books and I'm always so grateful to be granted access, but something is always lost when the formatting isn't correct in those advance digital review copies. This didn't negatively affect my rating or my review, but there were times (particularly during those awesome bonus scenes) where I'd have to back up in a conversation and work hard to keep track of who was talking. Sometimes I was a little lost. But again, I really like this book and it just means I'm going to have to get myself a real copy (which I would anyway because I get to see Elizabeth again at TLA in April!).

Better Off Friends is a really sweet, fun contemporary read with just the right balance of friendship and romance (and no, I am not saying whose romance it is!), light-hearted humor and serious life lessons, heartache and happiness. This is the full evolution of two characters' friendship over the course of several years and makes me long for the days when I had a best guy friend. Very, very well done.

Book Links:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg

About the Author:
Elizabeth Eulberg was born and raised in Wisconsin before heading off to college at Syracuse University and making a career in the New York City book biz. Now a full-time writer, she is the author of The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, and Better Off Friends. She lives outside of Manhattan with her three guitars, two keyboards, and one drumstick.

Author Links:
  

5 comments:

  1. Nice Review! I'm sorry you didn't get too sucked into the story, I'm so excited to read this book! :)

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  2. This one is on my list, but it's not at the top so it'll probably be a while til I get to it. I've never read a book by her before. Since this wasn't your favorite, which one of hers would you recommend I read first?

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  3. Great review. I really loved this book. I enjoy contemporaries, and this was just perfect for me. The conversations between Macallan and Levi were my favorite parts. And I know what you mean about formatting in eArcs, it's always off and things are easily taken out of context. Of her books that I have read, I enjoyed this one the most, followed by Take A Bow.

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  4. I got really distracted by the Culver's. Which is most unfortunate because the closest one to me is 2 hours away and by a bookstore that I can only get to for author signings. Anyway, I really want to read this book. It looks very cute and endearing (in a platonic way.. or not) I just wanna know what happens!
    XO, Kristi

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  5. Thanks for the review. this is a new author for me and I love books like this. And now I'm hungry (it's past lunch time and that drink looks really good) and Culver's is about 20 minutes from my house too.

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