It’s not a secret that books about friends who fall in love, is one of the topics that make me instantly buy the book. And, as you can conclude based on the title alone, Better off Friends is just that kind of book.
Better off Friends is a cute contemporary novel. Chapters alternate between Macallan and Levi who talk about how they met, their friendship and all weird situations they got into, because people thought they were more than friends. If you ever had a very good friend of the opposite sex, you can totally relate to their problems.
Each chapter is preceded by a small dialog between Levi and Macallan. They comment, in friendly banter, on the events so far and what is going to happen next. These were my favorite parts of the book. I felt like I was sitting in a coffee shop with them while they were retelling their life story to me.
Um, yeah. Friends lie to make each other feel better. You didn’t know that? Have I told you that you look really cute today?
Thanks, I — Wait a second.
And that’s not the only banter in Better off Friends. The book is full of it! Not only between Levi and Macallan, but also between Macallan and her girlfriends.
“Hey!” I slapped my hand against the table. “Speak for yourself, but I’m a very fun time.”
“Yeah,” Danielle agreed, “read the stalls in the guy’s bathroom.”
“Ha, ha.” I shot her a dirty look.
Point of view for a chapter is represented by his or hers silhouette on a swing (from the cover). This little detail was super cute. I love it when books have something like that. It’s completely unrelated to the quality of the story, but makes it more unique. And I feel that publisher really put an effort to make me like the book.
The biggest flaw of Better off Friends is that, at around half of the book, Levi and Macallan start to realize that they feel more than friendship for each other. From that point, there will be a lot of misunderstandings and missed opportunities to delay the ending. I was bored at times and felt like the end, the final resolution, was dragging on. It could have been much better if their pure friendship continued longer, so we had more wonderful banter and less drama.
Better of Friends is about all the problems you will encounter if you have a male best friend. From the annoying questions‘Why don’t you two just go out already?’ to the real danger of losing your heart. If you are looking for some literary depths you might be disappointed. But for a light, fluffy love story with a bit of banter and drama, Better off Friends is a perfect choice.
Recommended to fans of young adult contemporary romance novels about best friends who fall in love, good banter, high school setting, …
There’s so much to love about this novel, it’s hard to know where to start. I can begin by saying that there is a comfort level throughout the whole book that just won me over. An easy flowing rhythm that kept me engaged throughout the middle and high school years of the main characters and boy, did that time fly. I was surprised at how quickly the years passed as I dug myself deeper into the novel and my attachments with the characters strengthen. The character of Levi gave me the most enjoyment as I felt an enormous amount of emotions surrounding him. Coming from California, he thought he’d be able to fit right in but the students in his new high school are not impressed. When Macallan started showing him the ins and outs of the school, Levi’s world just got smaller. Right then, I knew I would either love Levi or dislike him depending on how he handled himself. So much was happening for Levi and none of it was what he expected when he came to Wisconsin. There is something about a relationship between a boy and girl that begins with them being friends and progresses into them being best friends, which I treasure. They experience a comfort level between them and I feel that they have a possessive attitude towards each other, to keep each other safe like best friends do. This type of relationship exists for Levi and Macallan. Both Levi and Macallan know they have something special going on with each other and they realize that to move it to another level might compromise their friendship. They have so much fun together and their relationship is so special. Everyone can see it, I can feel it and I cringe to read the book any further. I wanted them to push their relationship on but I don’t want them to ruin what they already have. It’s like I can’t have my cake and eat it too. So yes, I am screaming at Levi and I am shaking my head at Macallan, as I continued to read the book. What a great start to my summer reading.
Macallan and Levi were friends almost immediately after meeting in middle school. They quickly became best friends. But because they’re a guy and a girl, everyone always assumes they’re a couple. They always deny it, saying they’re just best friends, but once they start to think about it, Macallan and Levi wonder if maybe there’s something there. The big question is: is it worth pursuing or should they just stay friends? Each chapter switches viewpoints between the two with commentary from future Macallan and Levi between each chapter.
When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded fun. I fully expected Macallan and Levi to end up together at the end of it, but a small part of me hoped, due to the name, that maybe, just maybe, this would be a book where it actually shows that guys and girls can be best friends without it inevitably leading to romance. That hope was crushed pretty quickly.
That being said, I have no problems reading a book where friends do fall in love. Those are fun to read too. I thought, even if my hope was crushed, I’d still be in for a good read. The book started off well, and I was enjoying it. Sadly, my enjoyment did not last.
Things took a turn for the worse for me when Macallan and Levi go on a double date. Macallan has been dating Ian for ten months, and Levi has just started seeing Carrie. Once on their double date, Macallan and Levi talk to only one another until Ian has to interrupt and remind them that he and Carrie are there. Later on the date, Macallan and Levi once again get so wrapped up in one another that they don’t notice that their dates have left the building until someone else points it out to them. And we learn from Ian that Macallan does this all the time to him—ignores Ian whenever Levi is present. That’s just really rude and shitty behavior. I know that Levi is Macallan’s best friend, but repeatedly ignoring your boyfriend to the point where he has to remind you that he’s still there is really bad. I’m actually impressed that Ian stuck around as long as he did.
Once Macallan is single, we get to see Levi getting ridiculously possessive over her whenever another guy shows the slightest bit of interest in her. He actually goes around telling all his guy friends that she’s off-limits and gets pissed when they talk to her. What’s even better though is the fact that once Levi gets a bunch of guy friends, he starts ignoring Macallan. And his ignoring her goes on for months. And by ignoring, I mean ignoring phone calls and texts, breaking plans to do things with her constantly, interrupting conversations with her to speak to other guys, and hanging out with her so little that she can count the number of times they hung out in the past month on one hand. When Macallan’s friend, Danielle, gets mad at Levi for how he’s treating Macallan, Levi’s response is to think, “Wow. A girl overreacting. Paging Captain Cliché.” That did nothing to endear him to me. Then when Macallan expresses her anger at being treated like shit, Levi thinks she’s being ridiculous and that it isn’t his fault that she can’t handle the fact that he has other friends and commitments. He then tells her that she’s just pissed that her “little errand and whipping boy” wasn’t at her “beck and call” anymore. When she finally calls him out on being a shitty friend, he blows up at her and acts like she’s being the shitty one.
He continues to be a horrible person during the book. Future Levi does admit that he was being horrible then and that the only reason they continued being friends was because Macallan was the bigger person. Honestly, after a while, I had to wonder why she would want to continue being friends with him when he kept hurting her so badly and so often. He was so quick to throw their friendship away when he got a better offer. And he never really apologizes for what he did. Yes, future Levi does, but they’re already together at that point. Macallan had already been the bigger person and let it all go.
We did get some girl hate in here too from Macallan whenever another girl gets close to Levi. Like when Levi’s girlfriend, Stacey, and her friends (all cheerleaders) want to help Levi out when he’d injured himself. Macallan thinks that they’re just doing it to “drum up romantic delusions.” Stacey is shown to consistently be a genuinely nice person, and it’s not really that strange to want to help your boyfriend out when he’s hurt. And there is no indication from any of the other cheerleaders that they’re interested in Levi romantically. It seemed like they just wanted to help someone who was hurt. But since they’re females and getting close to Levi, they must be condescendingly dismissed.
And Levi is a completely awful boyfriend to Stacey. Levi had an epiphany while he was dating her that he was just using her to get over his feelings for Macallan and that it wasn’t fair to Stacey. He continues dating her. On New Year’s, Levi says the only reason he didn’t kiss Macallan was because he wasn’t sure if she wanted him to. Never mind the fact that he is currently dating Stacey and that would be cheating. He also asks Macallan if she wanted him to take her to the winter formal. He’s still dating Stacey. Then on the day of the winter formal, hours before the dance, Macallan gets cancelled on last minute. Levi asks her if she wants to go with him. Even though he asked Stacey who is literally getting ready at that very moment for their date. Macallan says no, but that doesn’t change the fact that Levi was completely willing to cancel on Stacey hours before the dance just to take another girl. That is just such an incredibly shitty thing to do. Even better, shortly after getting to the dance, Levi tells Stacey he has to go. She knows immediately that he’s going to Macallan and says it’s okay. Now I know Stacey excuses that behavior because she’s a completely awesome person, but it is incredibly shitty to ditch your date, your girlfriend in the middle of a dance to go chase after another girl. Throughout the book, we see Levi callously disregard other people’s feelings and ditch them in favor of whatever he perceives as a better offer. And I’m supposed to like him? Nope. Not going to happen.
Now, I didn’t hate everything. As I said before, I like Macallan and Levi’s relationship at the beginning of the book when they were both younger. I liked Macallan’s relationship with Levi’s mom (her mother had recently died) and with her uncle who was mentally disabled. I liked the fact that she stood up to bullies. I liked the rekindling of her friendship with Emily a few years after they ended their friendship. I liked the handling of Keith, a jerk jock who acted horribly to Macallan, which caused her to punch him in response. After the situation calmed a bit, Keith felt horrible for what he did, apologized (even though he recognized that Macallan probably wouldn’t believe him), and then did everything in his power to reduce the consequences for Macallan. I liked Macallan when she was with other characters, but I felt like Levi brought out the worst in her.
I am disappointed that I didn’t like this book. There were so many moments within the book that I liked. They were just overshadowed by a romance (and a main character) that I didn’t.
Here’s the basic difference between having a girl as a best friend as opposed to a guy.
When you’re best friends with a girl and you blather on and on, she kisses you to make you shut up.
*barf* I don't bloody think so.
If you have a really really cute guy friend and you guys have been close for so long but oh my god he's so hot and you think you're in love with him but does he like you and what about that time he checked out that other girl and oh my god you guys stay up all night talking and you're like *this* close and he makes your heart go aflutter because he's so *sigh* handsome and does he really see me the way I see him and I know he's dating my friend, but it's so awkward, and he'll never love her the way I love him, do I love him?! Oh my god, why can't he just see we were meant to be?!??!111ONE! and you feel like maybe you guys should declare your feelings *bluuuuuuush* and see where it takes you?!?!1
Then you might like this book.
If not, you might find it incredibly nauseating, as I did. If you do have a friend like I described above, do yourself a favor, grow some balls, tell him, and just get the fuck over it, please. Don't waste your time languishing over what Could Be and what Could Have Been. There's more to life than that.
Friendcest! I don't have a male sibling, so incest has never seriously icked me out, but I guess you could say that for me, this book is the equivalent of incest. I call it "friendcest." You see, I had a male best friend in high school.
We met in 9th grade, but didn't talk much. I had gotten over a terrible friendship breakup with my childhood BFF the previous summer, and swore to myself I would never be friends with anyone ever again (I was 15, ok?!). He sat behind me in French class the first day of 10th grade, and as they say, the rest is history.
This is almost verbatim the conversation that facilitated our friendship:
Him: I always thought you were the quiet genius in the corner.
Me: *bursts into wild laughter*
We talked every night on old-school AIM. We had almost nothing in common but our hatred towards society (we were teenagers, ok?), and our love for mocking stupid people (we were teenagers, ok?!). We boycotted prom night and chatted on AIM instead. We joined clubs together. We wrote obscene poetry during English Honors II together involving Queen Guinevere and Lancelot (we were reading The Once and Future King). I made fun of his love of country music. He made fun of my love for feminine-looking Japanese rockers (it was a phase). He taught the squeaky-clean baby Khanh to swear (I know you guys are grateful for that).
I loved Harry Potter. He hated Harry Potter (and refused to read the book). And for our graduation present, he gave me the first Harry Potter DVD. I nearly bawled my eyes out.
And there was never anything remotely romantic between us. Which is why this book made me rather queasy, because the entire message of this book is "I'VE HAD FEELINGS FOR YOU ALL ALONG, I JUST CAN'T SEE IT."
This book does nothing to dispel the myth that guys and girls can't be just friends. Really, it's not about platonic friendship at all. It's the story of a boy and a girl who were meant to be all along, but just can't see it. I found it irritating, I hated the theatrics, I hated the cheating, I hated the selfishness, and I hated seeing the people hurt in the process of the Twoo Wuvvers(tm) as they leave broken hearts behind in their journey to discovering that they were Soul Mates(tm). For me, it was pretty terrible. It was filled with nothing but teenaged melodrama and hysterics. There was no depth, and the entire book left me tremendously bored because it was SO FILLED WITH FEEEEEELINGS.
Platonic Friends, My Ass: The story started in middle school, when baby Levi and baby Macallan met. They almost instantly became BFFs, but that didn't last very long. The overwhelming feeling in this book is that Levi is the most obvivious idiot in the world. He goes around thinking, man, I'm the luckiest fella in the world, he's blissfully carefree, not knowing what's lurking underneath. Man, what I wouldn't give to be a guy.
This was why Macallan was the greatest friend in the world. I hadn’t seen her in ten days, yet she wanted to be sure I saw my girlfriend.
Well, guess what? You can't have your cake and eat it, too. The thing about Levi and Macallan is that we know all along that they have underlying feelings for each other. It was almost never platonic in nature.
I didn’t know what bothered me more: the fact that my best friend had been keeping something from me or that she was currently flirting with some guy.
Innocent Bystanders: Levi and Macallan are best friends, the trouble is that they're way too close. I said it was never platonic, and boy, do we see it in their respective relationships. Levi has a girlfriend. Macallan has a boyfriend. And both of them completely ignore their dates to talk to each other. They are self-absorbed, they are selfish, they are uncaring of anyone except themselves. For example, when they go on a double date, Levi and Mac can't stop talking to each other.
Ian cleared his voice loudly. “So, Carrie, I think we need to intervene before the Levi and Macallan Show takes over. Once they get started, they don’t stop. Ever.”
Ian and Carrie are Mac and Levi's dates. And to top it off, they're so absorbed in talking to each other that they don't even notice that their dates have left.
Danielle could read the nonverbal exchange Levi and I shared. “Let me guess. You didn’t realize your dates left.”
She shook her head. “You guys are too much.”
“Clearly,” Levi and I said in unison.
Levi = Sweet, Sweet Fantasy, Baby: Half the book is from a guy's perspective, but it almost doesn't feel that way. Levi is cute, but he's not a boy. He is entirely too feminine in his observations and his actions, despite his protestations and his manly grunts and his desperation to gain guy points with his macho Wisconsin guy friends.
This book tries really, really fucking hard to be cute, and it doesn't work, and it does so by making Levi the most adorbs thing in the whole fucking world. Like the moment when Levi is filled with joy at receiving a coupon for a homemade meal from Macallan. Like the moment where Mac takes Levi to her mom's grave, and he proceeds to have an entire fucking conversation to her dead mother. WHAT THE FUCK?
“Um, Mrs. Dietz, I’m Levi. I’m sure Macallan has told you all about me. And, well, none of it’s true, unless she told you I’m awesome.”
"Thank you, Mrs. Dietz, for raising your daughter the way you did. She’s awesome and I know that’s because of you. I wish I could’ve met you, but I guess I have in a way. Because of Macallan. And just so you know, I’ll do my best to protect her. And be there for her. Even if she does have the worst taste in football teams."
*snorts* That's cute. It's also wildly improbable. I don't buy it.
To top it off, Levi is filled with observaaaaaaaaations about how Macallan looks.
Macallan’s hair in the spring and summer was my favorite; in the sun it was almost bright red with an orange undertone. But if we went inside it looked like it did in the fall.
Bleeeeeeeeeeeech. Her hair looks like the fall: said no guy EVER. And I hate to presume, but I can't see a guy thinking this deeply and overanalyzing everything in excruciating fucking details.
I hated that something was getting in the way of their friendship. And that something was me.
Dun Dun DUUUUUUUUUUUN: Do you like teenage drama? Petty jealousies? Catfights? Oh-my-god-does-he-like-me conversations? Oh-my-god-you-are-no-longer-my-friend conversations? Cheating? Love triangles? That's pretty much all this book is. It's a bunch of teenagers acting very teenaged and nothing else. There is no depth to any of the characters. The side characters, like Macallan's best friend, are shallow bitches who flirt and flit from boy to boy. There is no deeper subplot. I didn't feel like there was a deep driving force to any of the main characters, because the only thing they're fucking worried about is (in order of precendence)
There are no deeper complications. There is no true character maturity. This was a shallow, nauseatingly predictable book.