Title: The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
Author: Kody Keplinger
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, 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.
The DUFF is an interesting and realistic look at teen life. I actually saw the trailer for the movie before I knew about the book. But I always like reading the books first, so I held off on the movie. When I saw the trailer, I just assumed that this was about college life. I love books about college aged students – though I really don't know why because I'm in my thirties... But anyway, I was a little surprised that Bianca – the main character – was in high school.
Honestly, I've been steering clear of young adult books lately because some of them are just too squeaky clean for me. However, The DUFF is not a squeaky clean book. I was actually surprised at how much sex there was in the book. The scenes aren't graphic, but some parents might not want their teens reading this. When a young adult book has sex scenes in them, I'm used to them at least being between two characters who are in love and have been together for awhile. That doesn't apply to most of the scenes in this book, but the characters do eventually fall for each other.
Bianca is a character I really liked. She's a very smart and cynical girl. She's not skinny or beautiful, but her two best friends are. Her confidence takes a bigger hit when Wesley, the school man-whore, tells her that she is the DUFF – the designated ugly fat friend. He is interested in her friends, so his goal is to get in good with Bianca. He thinks that if he is seen talking with the poor chubby girl that nobody is interested in, her friends will think he's a great guy. Bianca's not about to give him the time of day – she throws her drink on him and walks away.
In the beginning I assumed that her friends were using her to make themselves look better. I thought they would be the stereotypical popular mean girls. But they weren't that way at all. They didn't even know what a DUFF was, and they never saw Bianca that way. They were great friends to her.
Things are falling apart at home for Bianca, and she needs some sort of distraction. For some reason, she ends up kissing Wesley and likes it – even though she is convinced that she hates him. She uses him for sex because she doesn't think about all her problems when she is with him. Eventually, she finds out that Wesley's home life isn't so great either. They even sort of become friends. And then more...
In the end, there is a good message about having safe sex and there is also a good message about accepting yourself the way you are. I've been feeling pretty torn about what rating to give this book. I normally don't like books that have sex that doesn't mean anything. And I like some build-up to it – you know, sexual tension and all that. I like the characters to be falling for each other BEFORE they hit the sheets. It bothered me how, in the beginning, Bianca was complaining about all the girls who sleep with Wesley and she talked about how they probably have diseases. So, when she decided to just suddenly have sex with him...it just didn't feel right to me. Bianca seemed to smart for that. However, I liked how Bianca and Wesley changed throughout the book and became better people in the end.
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