Better Off Friends

Better Off Friends - Elizabeth Eulberg

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.