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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Perfect Valentine's Read: Better Off Friends

Happy Valentine's Day! On a day like this I think it's always a good idea to read a book that's a little bit more on the romantic and cute side. And guess what... I found you the perfect one! It's a book that is on my 3 books of 2017 list, it's a book that's been on my wishlist since 2015 and it's a book that has a lot of mixed feelings but caught me at the right side of my heart: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Macallan and Levi get best friends by a coincidence and ever since that coincidence they're inseparable. They share jokes, they get together after school almost all the time, they help each other out when needed, they laugh all the time, they're best friends. Yet not everyone seems to understand that, can't a boy and a girl be friends? Macallan and Levi keep being asked if they're together while their relationship is pure platonic. And they're happy that way. Until they realize that they're getting in each other's way: boys won't ask Macallan out and girls decide Levi is nothing when he hangs out too much with Macallan. Both then ask themselves if maybe, just maybe they were supposed to be more than just platonic best friends or if that would endanger their friendship.

This book was a bit of a cliche, but I loved it. I'm the kind of reader who is okay with a cliche from time to time. Especially when the characters are very well written so it isn't only talk about the cliche in the book! 

Macallan was someone I'd look up to. She bites back when she needs to and she will not take any crap. When people are hating on her family, when people are judging people who are sick or have a disability, she goes to those people and she'll tell them exactly what needs to be said. The first time that this happens, in the book, I was truly amazed by it because it's so good that the character does that. It just sets an example for how it should be in the real life: don't take crap from others. 

She might seem like a very tough girl, often cold when she's angry or irritated but to every tough part is a soft spot. Macallan is also very emotional when it comes to her family because she has lost and I really loved to see that side in her as well. Macallan will be tested out by it and also learn how to accept the loss by talking about it with her best friend, Levi. 

Another thing I was keen on in this character was that she was very helpful but also someone who loved distractions. Those distractions start making her cooking and since her best friends' family is so close to hers she invites them for dinner a lot. The mother of Levi now feels like she needs to make special things that score well with Macallan which gives the reader a few funny encounters. 

As for Levi, he moves from California and comes in the hands of the super sweet Macallan. What I noticed about Levi is that he's also very helpful, determined and funny but that he's also trying to find his place in society. He wants to be one of the guys but with Macallan at his side that's very hard. When Levi's being annoying and nagging about it, Macallan will not give a crap and either make him stop or make him laugh. 

I just really enjoyed it that Levi was different from Macallan with the finding a spot in society. This makes it also a more interesting read because he's discovering who he is and what he needs and wants in his life.

Both characters are really interesting and very well written. They hit off immediately and the bond that they have is mesmerizing! Since both of them are funny, sweet and helpful they're just the perfect match for best friends. I was keen on seeing how they would act on the differences and how their friendship would evolve over the years explained in the book.

As for the plot, I first want to point out that the characters will intervene between each chapter. The book talks about their journey through high school, and after the chapter they'll look back at that moment and comment on it. At first I didn't really understood what was happening as I thought it was them texting each other at that period in high school, but when you keep reading, you'll find out it's them rethinking about what happened and tell how they felt about it now. I was really keen on those parts because it added funny moments or made other moments rather deep and special.

As I said before, the book is set during high school. We'll see their friendship from the start to the most crucial point in it and readers can be really happy about that! You won't be just dropped into a friendship like many other books do, you'll see it become and grow and take its highs and lows which is appreciated!

Better Off Friends is also really easy to read and very fluent. You won't be stuck at a page because it's hard to comprehend what just happened. It's really laid back, easygoing and also really funny. The hilarity about it all is that the best friends mostly ramble to each other and the other people around them just sit there and don't know what on earth is happening. You will have a smile on your face when funny encounters as this will happen, and believe me they will happen.

But there's also a more serious tone in the book and those are the highs and lows in their friendship. We've all been there and done that! The book therefore shows a realistic friendship that isn't all good and fantastic but also needs to cover anger, sadness and them hating each other and being in a discussion. This is also a part that's really appreciated by me because it makes things more normal and real life !

And then there's also the part of their friendship that asks if there could be something more. This is something a lot of people could relate to, me included so that's a nice asset to the book! I really found it adorable how they acted and how they felt toward each other without telling the other one about it. This will also cover feels all over the place and high frustrations for the reader who wants it or doesn't want things to happen!

There are two themes I'd like to focus my attention on in this review. First of all, the biggest cliche of all, a boy and a girl can't be best friends. The book will really get into it! They'll get comments as "how's your boyfriend, Levi, doing?" "Weren't you together with Macallan?" but it will also show the side effects of it: Levi hangs too much with Macallan instead of his dates, and Macallan can't find a boyfriend because Levi's always there. Which will also be a thing that causes highs and lows, feels from angry to happy with the two main characters!

Another theme that I found is rather interesting to see with the character was finding your place in society. This was mostly played out for the main character Levi. He moved from California and the first friend he makes is a girl. The guys don't want him around, they joke about him and his best friend being a girl. All Levi really wants is to be 'one of the guys' because he thinks that's important. During the read however, he will be asked this question a lot: Is it what I need? And so he'll find out how he feels about this situation and find a proper response on it.

One thing that kind of bothered me though was their age. The book starts at the age of 11 and end with them being in their junior year. I don't have any clues to how that system works because in Belgium it's not called like that but they do mention the age of 16. What bothered me about the age was that they felt so mature for those ages. I don't really feel like that's realistic, or at least not where I live. They were more mature than I was at the age of 11, I still played with Barbie! So it might be me, but that slightly bothered me. Of course the age isn't mentioned often, they mostly say in what grade they are (which is different from how it works or is named here, so I didn't understand and didn't know what age it was so it couldn't bother me too much!)

And lastly, I'm very aware of the fact that there will be people who will say one thing about it: "This is a cliche and I hate cliches!" and I totally get that and accept that. However if you're looking for a funny book with yes, a cliche but still a very cute friendship that might turn into more: then this is your read. All I can say is that I found it very hilarious, moving and fun to read. Especially on a day like this where cliches are TOTALLY okay!

To conclude this review and this very romantic day I want to say that this book was actually better than I had first anticipated! There are very mixed feelings about this book and I am very aware of the fact that some readers will find this a big cliche. However, I did not mind this because it was so funny and easy going that it was very enjoyable to read about cliche. Also the characters' bond was very special to see and also shines light onto the biggest cliche in real life: boys and girls being best friends! Next to that the characters, Levi and Macallan, will review each chapter and tell how they feel about it now, looking back at it, which I think was a nice addition and a great asset to the book. The going back and forth, being blind, being angry and yet still needing each other was very well written in this book and I just really enjoyed it!If you don't mind cliches, like hilarious, smooth and easygoing reads then this is your perfect Valentine's Read!

"Are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?"

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