So after reading both these books recently I’ve decided to kill two birds with one stone by doing a comparison review of both, considering they share a lot of similarities. The basis of both books is of mixed gender friendships which began at a young age, and how they develop into the potential for something more and the challenges that come along with it.
Better Off Friends features Maccallan and Levi who become friends when Levi moves to her school. They both happen to share a love of some obscure tv show, no one else has really heard of, sealing their bond. The book navigates from their first meeting in 7th grade up until their later teens. Told from alternating perspectives of both leads narrating each of their stories, offers better understanding to their motives and endears you to their characters even more.
Last Year’s Mistake takes a different route, by flicking between Kelsey before she moved to Rhode Island and after, which explains the lead up to the event which changed her friendship with David and the resulting after effects. The before starts with Kelsey meeting David on a summer holiday to Rhode Island with her family, their friendship blossoms and they soon discover they will be living in the same area after the summer. The after refers to Kelsey’s life after moving to Rhode Island permanently and the dissolving friendship between herself and David. However, after almost a year of no communication David shows up at her school, causing all the feeling of ‘What if?’ to return.
The female leads in both Last Year’s Mistake and Better Off Friends were both oblivious or trying to ignore for the most part the budding romance and the male leads advances. When it was revealed what their true feelings were, both females shared an indecisiveness to take the relationship further. In Last Year’s Mistake it was due to the fact that it was the night before Kelsey was due to move away that David revealed his feelings. While in Better off Friends, Macallan’s indecision was more due to her concern for their friendship and the consequences if the relationship faltered.
Macallan and Levi’s romance is much easier to like. They’re friendship is clear and while there is turmoil within their friendship it mostly boils down to the timing never being right for them in a romantic sense. Levi discovers he loves Macallan as more than friends, which sends her into a tailspin and running away overseas to visit family. Of course while she’s over there she realizes her true feelings for Levi and upon her return intends to tell him of them only to find he has moved on…. But has he really?
David and Kelsey’s romance has a bitterness to it that is realistic in a sense but also destructive. Kelsey only seems to want David when she can’t have him, and when he’s available she continually pushes him away. However, for Kelsey there are other factors in play, such as the fact that in Kelsey’s new life she currently has a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop her wanting David.
Overall they were both enjoyable reads. For a light, heart-warming read I would go for Better Off Friends, it was a much easier read than Last Year’s Mistake which was full of intense, raw feelings which often manifested in horrible acts toward the other as a way of dealing with their difficult emotions.