Better Off Friends by Elzabeth Eulberg

Can a boy and a girl be best friends in a platonic relationship?

This is the story of Macallan and Levi who became friends when they were 12. Levi arrived in Wisconsin the year after Macallan’s mother was killed in a car crash. They didn't hit it off at first, but ended up friends because of their mutual enjoyment of a British sit-com. Their parents connected and became close so they spent a lot of time together as extended family.

I liked the format. Alternative chapters in the book are written in distinct font to portray which character's perspective is being revealed. Each chapter is followed by an interlude where the two of them reflect on the content. The characters are witty and charming. I liked both of them.

Honestly, I read this book because, a very, very, long time ago, I married my best friend. I wondered how an author would deal with a boy and a girl being best friends. Would it feel authentic and truthful? Would my much younger self be able to connect?

The answers are sort of.

I liked this book well enough. There are parts I thought were very smart and maybe even brilliant. It even felt authentic at times. There were some truths I related to:

  • It’s hard for others to get that you can just be friends with someone of the opposite gender. 
  • It can be uncomfortable when your best friends date each other because of the fallout if they fall out. 
  • High school relationships tend to be temporary and fraught with angst and upheaval. Against that backdrop, it wouldn't be worth it to give up a solid friendship for something so transient. 
I wanted to love this book but couldn’t. I was disappointed that the friendship was marked by sexual tension and hints of jealousy from early on. Maybe it’s because I’m too old for my younger self to connect to the teen angst inherent in it. Maybe it’s because I did have a platonic relationship with a boy who was one of my best friends, and for me at least, the romantic component never played a part. (Well not until we had graduated, gone off in separate directions, and met each other again as adults)

Here’s what I know for sure. Marrying your best friend when you are ready to make a commitment goes a long way to ensuring success in the relationship. I can only wish for the best for these fictional characters.

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