WHEN HARRY MET SALLY . . . for teens, from romantic comedy star Elizabeth Eulberg.
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?
I like the idea of a modern teenage take of “When Harry Met Sally…” but I can’t say I am enamored with “Better Off Friends” in the same way I am with Nora Ephron’s classic rom-com.
Macallan and Levi are best friends. They fall in love. Stuff gets complicated along the way. It’s a classic plot line in romantic fiction and it’s often unexciting, predictable and cliched. “Better Off Friends” falls victim to the lesser evils: predictability. It’s really quite exciting and fun to read, which is good, but I still felt like a lot was missing.
Eulberg tells the story over, like, five years and from both Macallan’s and Levi’s points of view. This is a daring endeavor. Not only is it hard to adequately portray five years in 288 pages, but adding that element of two voices really makes it a challenge. And in these instances, I’m not sure it was a great move.
There is so much potential in this story, so much room for growth that just wasn’t explored because there wasn’t enough time or space. Eulberg would tell a story about seventh grade Macallan and Levi from Macallan’s point of view, and then she would have Levi reflect on that story in the next chapter. The result is unnecessary repetition. And then, she would jump ahead a year in their lives and leave big holes in the story.
I think if she had limited herself to either a shorter period of time or only one point of view, she might have been able to achieve more. Or she could have added another 100 pages or so (though I’m sure she had some length restrictions.)
Basically, I finished the book wanting more and feeling like the story jumped around and left empty spaces at random points. If I had my way, I would have given her the extra 100 pages because I like the idea of being along for the whole ride, not just some small segment if it and I like hearing both points of view. It is as if Macallan and Levi are talking to me one-on-one, telling me their story. It is a cool idea, really.
There is so much potential for more that it kills me. But overall, it is a sweet book that you should grab if you’re in the mood for a quick, easy read.
6 out of 10