Title: Better off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point (Scholastic), 2014
Pages: 278 p
I get a lot of my books from the library and VOYA, but I'll also get books randomly mailed to me. Quite a few wind up being too juvenile so I skip them since I never actually asked for them. But once in a while I'm sent something that actually looks promising and YA. This is one of those books.
11-year old Macallan has had her world flipped upside down when her mom dies and is looking forward to the distraction of schoolwork. Levi is the new homesick kid in school looking for his first friend. Macallan is not really interested in anything with Levi until she discovers they both love an obscure British television show. They bond over the show and instantly become best friends. The older they get the harder it is to remain best friends when other relationships and love interfere.
The book starts out with Macallan and Levi speaking directly to the reader, each with a different font, to set up the story. They continue speaking to the reader after each chapter. The chapters alternate Macallan's point of view with Levi's. Besides the font change, they each have distinctive voices and it's easy to tell who is narrating the chapter. Eulberg has done a good job of distinguishing her characters without resorting to simply using crass language for the boy's perspective. We're able to see both sides of the story so we don't automatically sympathize with one or the other.
I've said before that I'm not much of a romance reader. I don't mind it if it's part of a larger story but if it's pretty much just pure romance it doesn't keep my interest. This book was different-- it is a romance, but it's about friendships and family and so much more. Better off Friends is funny and interesting and a good addition to any YA collection.
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