Thursday, 11 February 2016

Last Year's Mistake vs. Better Off Friends (Exploring the ‘Friends to Romance’ trope)

Better off Friends


For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?    
Better Off Friends: 4/5

Last Year's Mistake


Before:Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

After:Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.
Last Year's Mistake: 3/5

My Review 

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. 

Are you a fan of this trope? Do you prefer the light-hearted or more emotion fueled stories?

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