Author: Kody Keplinger
Release Date: September 7th, 2010
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 "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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.
There comes a point in every girl's life when she feels like "the ugly one." It's a horrible feeling, really, but one that cannot be avoided.
Bianca Piper feels this way all the time. She loves her friends, but it doesn't help her self esteem that her best friends, Casey and Jessica, are both tall, blonde and gorgeous. So when resident man-whore and pompous jerk Wesley calls her the DUFF- the designated ugly, fat friend- she throws her Coke at him and storms out. But when her family life starts to fall apart, she turns to Wesley for a (physical) release, and as she spends more time with him, she starts to see that maybe he isn't as bad as she pegged him to be. Armed with confusing feelings for the one guy she thought she hated more than anyone, Bianca realizes that maybe she's getting more than she signed up for.
Bianca is a strong protagonist. She's smart, cynical and witty, and even negative at times. Some readers may not enjoy her pessimism, but I, for one, enjoyed it. Yes, she's not exactly the most chipper, most positive character, but her flaws and negativity make her so real. I could have been listening to any real, concrete teenager speak- that's how real Bianca was to me.
Bianca's issues with her friends and her relationship with Wesley are two other things that I absolutely loved about this novel. They have flaws, and they have their highs and lows. They're realistic. Nothing in this novel is overdone at all, and the fact that it's so believable and palpable make it so much more enjoyable. I wish that the other characters other than Welsey and Bianca, such as Jessica and Casey and even Bianca's parents could have been developed more, but other than that, everything's great.
As much as I liked Bianca and her complex relationships, though, I have to say that my favorite part of the novel was how it just speaks to readers. It addresses the issue of low self-esteem perfectly, and despite Bianca's initial cynicism, The DUFF turns out to be an important, uplifting read that, in my opinion, should be read by every teenage girl who's ever felt ugly. Bianca's journey to self-acceptance was one I enjoyed, and it's something that definitely inspired me to love myself a little more. Cheesy, I know, but read this novel and you'll want to be cheesy. Trust me, you will.
Laugh-out-loud funny with sarcastic wit on the side, The DUFF is a fun, delicious read about a headstrong girl, a womanizing guy, and the dirty adventures they have together that lead to an uplifting end. This novel is undeniably one of my favorites of the year, and I can't wait to read more of Keplinger's hilariously honest, 100% refreshing stories. If her forthcoming novels are anything like her debut, then they're sure to be wonderful.