Eulberg, Elizabeth. Better Off Friends
February 25th 2014, Point
E ARC from Netgalley.com
When Levi moves to Wisconsin from California in middle school, he and Macallan hit it off when they bond over an obscure British television show they both love. Macallan ends up going over to his house every Wednesday, since her father has to work, her uncle can't pick her up, and her mother has been killed in an auto accident. Macallan and Levi become best friends, but it's not always smooth sailing. For a while, Levi dates Macallan's best friend Emily, but when Emily cheats on him, she expects Macallan to lie for her, which gets her in trouble with Levi. Levi wants to make friends with boys, which he does with some of the members of the track and football teams, but Macallan takes offense when some of Levi's friends are jerks to her. Both of them, over their high school careers, date other people, have moments when they don't get along, and start to realize that maybe they are more than best friends. Macallan spends a summer with her grandparents in Ireland, Levi tears his ACL, endangering his sports career, and eventually, the two work out how they really feel about each other.
Strengths: This was a very nice romance book that spanned middle school and high school without veering into inappropriate territory. There's lots of friend and boyfriend drama, family drama, some nice moments when the normally quiet Macallan stands up to bullies-- lots and lots of genuine moments. I should probably just buy two copies of this because it will be popular.
Weaknesses: Not to spoil the ending here, but apparently boys and girls cannot just be friends. That was a little disappointing to me, although all of the romantic middle school girls will think this is brilliant. I wish they had ended up just being friends, like Kevin and Winnie in The Wonder Years. (Although, admittedly, I sobbed through the whole last episode, in part because Kevin and Winnie don't end up together.)