Better Off Friends

276p. ebook available. Scholastic/Point. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545551458. LC 2013019024.
Gr 6–10—Levi and Macallan meet the first day of seventh grade and quickly become devoted friends. Told in chapters that alternate between their voices, this contemporary novel follows the teens for five years. During that time, Macallan grieves over her mother's recent death, Levi strives to fit in with the athletes, and they both struggle to figure out romantic relationships while keeping their friendship intact. The protagonists are interesting characters, facing the usual barrage of middle- and high-school challenges in inventive ways, as when Macallan teaches herself to be an expert chef. When Macallan and Levi begin to realize they are in love, the awareness triggers one misunderstanding and romantic misfire after another— which becomes repetitious; the pacing suffers as a result. The book does, however, have some compelling moments, as when Macallan deals singlehandedly with a bully's taunts. With the premise of friends becoming something more, the innocence of the romance, and the age of the protagonists over the course of the narrative, this will be appeal to younger teen readers.—Martha Baden, Prescott Public Library, AZ
Guy Levi and girl Macallan have been best friends since seventh grade. As they grow up and start high school, boyfriends, girlfriends, and peer pressure provide a near-constant threat to their friendship, and they start examining their place in each other's lives. Not all of the abundant dialogue rings true in this bubbly, readable rom-com, though the alternating-perspective narration is engaging.

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