Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
Released: September 7th 2010
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
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. (from Goodreads)
The Duff was a rather complex book. Let’s just start with the word “Duff”. The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. What a word right? It’s like, the ultimate insult. No matter what anyone says, if someone called you The Duff for the first time, you’d be upset. It’s a horrible word. Yet, apparently, it’s used all the time. It exists. Girls are labelled Duffs, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Bianca Piper experiences being called The Duff for the first time, and ends up pouring Cherry Coke on the guy who says it to her (good on you, Bianca!). But pouring Cherry Coke on Wesley Rush doesn’t erase what he said to her. It doesn’t stop her thinking about all her faults: is she too fat? Too ugly? Is she too short, are her boobs to small? And to top it all off, Bianca’s home life takes a turn for the worse. Instead of facing her problems though, Bianca decides to distract herself – she sleeps with the boy she hates, the one who calls her “Duffy”, the biggest manwhore in the school – Wesley Rush. And not just once. Because Wesley is the only one that can make her forget about all her problems, make her feel like she’s not just an ugly mess. Ironic, since he’s the one that called her The Duff in the first place. But Bianca soon realises that maybe Wesley isn’t as bad as she thought, and when her only distraction becomes another problem, running away starts to get a lot harder.
Bianca is a character I think we can all relate to (I loved her especially because of all the cynicism and sarcasm – I’m a great appreciator of sarcastic wit). Though she knew what she was doing with Wesley wasn’t the best way to solve her problems, she couldn’t help it. She wanted to feel wanted. To feel like somebody actually cared. She questioned why Wesley even agreed to their deal, yet she didn’t push the subject. I think that showed just how screwed up she was. Every time they slept together, she felt dirty and wrong. But she kept doing it anyway. Anything to escape from her home life, anything to distract herself. She thought she was ugly, and couldn’t understand why Wesley didn’t just push her away. But she didn’t care as long as she could keep coming over to his house. She was losing her friends. It wasn’t until she realised that she might actually like Wesley that she decided to call the whole thing off. Ironic, huh? Bianca, though probably someone who acted in a way most people haven’t, was thinking and feeling a lot of things most people have. Which is why I felt like I could relate to her. She was messed up, and she knew it, just like a lot of teenage girls today with self-esteem issues and confidence problems. Bianca thought she was alone in the problem – but we learn from The Duff that none of us are alone.
Wesley started off as a completely arsehole, but I guess this is another case of first impressions not always being right. As Bianca got to know him, she found out there was more to him than just his manwhore status. He had his own problems, but not only that, he was a good listener, and was willing to be there for her whenever she needed him. Sometimes, he could say really nice things. And he seemed to care about her too. Plus, there was no denying the hotness. Still, how could she trust him? He was in it for the sex, and nothing else right? I have to admit, it took a while for me to properly like Wesley. He seemed like a good person, and he was definitely funny and charming, but he was a complete manwhore. Seriously. THAT many girls? I’m surprised he managed it – he may have been good-looking, but he could be downright mean sometimes! But, in the end, I liked him. A lot. He did a lot for Bianca, and he was willing to change for her. Which I imagine would take a lot of effort. I think he became a better person by the end of the book, and the last line...aw, it was cute :).
Bianca’s friends were great supporting characters, I think, and were a prime example of how everyone can feel like The Duff sometimes (like Bianca said, if you haven’t felt like The Duff, you can’t have any friends). I think that was an important message to get across – I know I’ve certainly felt like The Duff a lot, and I know others who have too. But “Duff” is just another word, after all, and I think that once you realise that everyone feels like The Duff at some point, it’s a bit easier to get over it once someone has called you it. Bianca went as far as being proud of being The Duff – because everyone is, even the person who said it to you. The Duff teaches you that you can’t be happy with others unless you’re happy with yourself, and that’s a philosophy I’m going to try hard to follow.
In conclusion, The Duff was a book I would recommend for all girls, whatever age, and is something I’ll probably be rereading. I’m happy Kody Keplinger decided to address these issues in such a funny, yet eye-opening way, and I look forward to reading her other works.