Book Review: The D.U.F.F by Kody Keplinger
Genre: YA w/ mature themes
Publication: September 7, 2010
Rating: 4 Hearts
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
Bianca Piper is your typical overly cynical high school senior. She’s best friends with two gorgeous and outgoing girls, but has never really thought to compare herself to them not until the night that Wesley Rush dubs her “The Duff”. Wesley, the resident high school lothario clues Bianca in to a horrifying fact, as the shorter, chubbier, smaller chested between two blonde, tall, leggy friends she is inevitably the designated, ugly, fat friend. What I liked about Bianca is that she didn’t have any self esteem issues prior to receiving this unfortunate moniker. She wasn’t pressured by society or her friends to look or be a certain way she was just herself. What occurs over the course of this book is how this label begins to formulate Bianca’s opinion of herself. It instills in her a tiny seed of doubt especially in regard to her dealings with Wesley. And Wesley where to begin? He’s gorgeous, over confident, cocky, and rich. He sort of reminded me of the character Steff from Pretty in Pink. But what these seemingly two polar opposites don’t realize is that they have far more in common than they think. At the root of Bianca’s cynicism is the fact that she has been dealing with an absentee mother and for Wesley it’s rich parents that would rather travel the world then parent their kids. It’s these closed door issues that ultimately unite this unlikely couple and see them embark on the most unconventional of relationships. What Bianca comes to realize one fateful evening after planting a shocking kiss on the lips of the stunned Wesley is that he gives her the ability to forget her problems; the ultimate impending divorce of her parents and her fathers return to drinking. For Wesley it provides him a closeness and togetherness (beyond his one night stands) that he has been sorely missing.
What’s sort of startling at least for a YA book is that Bianca and Wesley’s relationship is based on sex. Quite literally Bianca uses Wesley for sex the way a drug addict would use crack to numb the pain. So all of their encounters involve steamy hook-ups in broom closets, on pool tables, and in bedrooms. In addition, Bianca has one foul mouth as the F bomb was littered throughout the book as casually as the casual sex. While the behaviors and language in the book are nothing short of realistic it just seemed wholly inappropriate for a book marketed as YA. I did find the book lacking in some areas, I wish that Wesley had been a little more fleshed out. He was a good character but I would have liked more explanation as to where his love of Bianca started. He said on one occasion that she basically had the “potential” to be attractive. As a female that is sleeping with someone that would have been a hard pill to swallow. I appreciate that Bianca isn’t all that wrapped up in her appearance and despite Wesley’s good looks she never appears to be self conscious around him. But I would have liked the book to be a tad longer so that there were more scenes of them connecting beyond the million times they hook-up.
In the end, I enjoyed The D.U.F.F. There was something almost Shakespearean about it, borderline ugly duckling, hates, likes, hates, then ultimately falls in love with the leading man. It struck a cord with me because the Duff syndrome is something that I feel many a teenage girl and even woman has been a part of. There are always going to be women, girls, friends, co-workers, and strangers that are prettier, skinnier, funnier than you. It’s not letting that label define you that sets you apart. For Bianca being nicknamed The Duff didn’t define her because she took away its power and redefined what it truly meant to be the designated ugly fat friend.
Find The D.U.F.F here
Rating: 4 Hearts