Saturday 9 June 2012

161. The Duff by Kody Keplinger

The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Published May 2012 Hachette

From the publisher:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is smart, cynical, loyal - and well aware that she's not the hot one in her group of friends. But when high-school jock and all round moron Wesley Rush tells her she's a DUFF - a Designated, Ugly Fat Friend - Bianca does not the see funny side. She may not be a beauty but she'd never stoop so low as to go anywhere near the likes of Wesley ... Or would she Bianca is about to find out that attraction defies looks and that sometimes your sworn enemies can become your best friends ... With a wry and tell-it-like-it-is voice, The Duff is a witty and poignant story of a teenager struggling with the rules of high school attraction, along with the breaking down of her relationships with family and friends. It is a novel about what it means to be sexy, in a world where we feel we have to be perfect!

When I first saw the title of this book, I assumed if was a book about teenage pregnancy, as in 'up the duff'. I was mistaken, the DUFF in this book stands for Designated Ugly Friend.

This is Bianca's story, who has been told by the handsome womanizer Wesley that she is the Duff in her circle of friends. If this label isn't enough to throw her into an emotional spin, she is also dealing with a family that consists of an increasingly absent Mother and a Father who might be about to fall 'off the wagon'. Add to this the memory of a horrible breakup, Bianca finds herself dealing with her problems by falling into bed with Wesley, the womanizing man whore who she hates?

Bianca starts to question what it means to be beautiful? What it means to be sexy? If she is the Duff, why is Wesley sleeping with her?

I was worried as I was reading this, because it was hard for me to watch Bianca using sex as an escape from a reality she didn't want to deal with. I know that we don't want books to be too didactic, but as a book for teenagers, I hoped that the author would make the character see that what she was doing was wrong.  I know I am getting old when I worry about the characters in books as if they were real people.

Bianca does realise what she is doing is wrong.  She also starts to realise that she's not just spending time with Wesley as an escape, she actually has feelings for him.  Knowing that a boy like Wesley couldn't possibly feel the same way about her, she breaks all ties with him, and starts dating someone else, her was of escaping from her feelings about Wesley.

As much as the 'sex as an escape' aspect of this book made me uncomfortable, the underlying story is a good one.  The feelings of teenage girls who are trying to, not only figure out who they are for themselves, but figuring out who they are in relation to the people around them.  What makes you a good daughter, a good friend, a good student or a girlfriend.  All of these things come down to having the confidence to be yourself, and to be happy with the person you are and making sure you are doing things for the right reasons.

Here's my little library you can imagine, sex features quite strongly in this book and it has it's fair share of swearing too.

Who will like this book: Girls age 15+
Read it if you like: Good Girls by Laura Ruby

1 comment:

  1. I'll admit that I didn't want to read The DUFF. Not one little bit. I kept hearing people talk about it and how excited they were and I just wanted to run in the opposite direction. The fact of the matter was, I didn't want to read a book about a "designated ugly fat friend," not when I felt like one myself. I suppose you could say that I was a bit afraid of Kody Keplinger's debut novel. I can now say that I would have been kicking myself forever if I hadn't given this novel a chance. Before I'd even finished reading, I realized that The DUFF is one the best contemporary YA novels I've ever read and that I may never be able to get it out of my head.