Sunday, October 3, 2010

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

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. (Summary from Good Reads.)

OMG!  Like you've got to read this book.  Like it changed my life.  Like , I mean you know!  JK!

Actually this book wasn't anything like that.  It was a great book filled with wonderful characters and had a great storyline.  Bianca or B as she is called is sarcastic, secretive and surprising.  That combination makes a great character, but combine it with a story line that goes up and down and set in high school and it makes for a great story.  Casey is B's best friend, an amazon at 6'1" next to B's 5'2" and B considers her to be as beautiful as if she'd just stepped off the cover of teen Vogue.  Casey is always making B open up about what's wrong when B would rather just bottle things up.  So whenever she says, "Every thing's fine." Casey warns her closest friends that means she's lying.  Jessica, the third in their trio of friends is blond and beautiful according to B and tends to look at life just a little too optimistically for B.  She's a realist.  She has to be because life at home isn't exactly rosy.  Her mom, a motivational speaker, has been gone for two months and she and her dad don't talk about it.  She sees the handwriting on the wall, but her dad pretends all is well until the divorce papers show up in the mail.

B  is kind of like the designated driver in this book, though the girls don't drink.  They go to a teen club called "The Nest" where she sits at the bar and drinks Cherry Cokes and talks to the thirty year old bartender, Joe.  She watches her friends dance the night away, never joining in.  She keeps herself from having fun it seems on purpose, setting herself apart from those who are having fun.  She seems to enjoy her misery even when her friends come out of the crowed and ask her to join them.  Then, the hated Wesley Rush plops down beside her and tells her she's the DUFF.  She has no idea what that is until he tells her she's the Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Soon, Wesley is wearing Cherry Coke all over himself while B's sharp tongue tells him where to go and what to do with himself.  She is so angry she makes her friends leave early and when she explains she got in a fight with him, they both sigh like he's the hottest boy in town.  Which unfortunately he is, though B calls him a man whore.  She neglects to tell them about the DUFF part of the conversation and Casey teases her endlessly about liking him.  But, the next time they're at the Nest, Wesley takes the same seat and pisses her off again and things are so bad at home that for some reason, she kisses him.  She only stops when his hand strays a little too high and  then she slaps him hard.  But she realizes when she's kissing him she can't think about her problems and he becomes, in the author's words "like a drug" to her.

B and Wesley's relationship becomes more complicated as her home life becomes more complicated.  Her father begins drinking again and he is a mean drunk, though she only sees this once.  Wesley and B are assigned an English project together and have to work on it at his house since her father is drinking and unpredictable.  She finds out things about his home life that make them have more in common than she realized.  She continues to visit him even after the paper is turned in and keeps the "relationship" a secret from Casey and Jessica.  Things become more complicated when Jessica's brother comes home because he and B were involved at one time before she and Casey were friends with Jessica.  Then Toby Tucker, B's long time crush suddenly asks her out and she begins dating him, but she can't stop comparing him to Wesley.  And throughout the whole story, Wesley calls B the insulting name of Duffy and doesn't realize it hurts her every time he uses it.

Things get even more complicated for B when her mom returns to confront her father, meet Toby, and then Toby, Casey and Jessica all go to the Nest together.  She's sure Wesley will be there and she's not sure how to handle it.  For once in her life, she doesn't know what to do.  The unflappable B, is a bundle of nerves because even though she doesn't want to admit it, she has feelings for Wesley, not love, "because romantic love takes years upon years to  build upon."  And why would Wesley Rush, rich, handsome, a guy who could have any girl in the school, want her?  After all, he thinks of her as the DUFF.

As far as the characters go, I think they were developed just enough so that we could see them and then they told their own story.  Some weren't very developed, but then they didn't lend much to the story so they didn't need to be, like the best friends.  They were just side dishes to the main course.

I loved this book!  I think Kody Keplinger should not go to college but keep writing.  I think she will have her imagination drained if she goes to college and she's got a great imagination.  The book jacket says she's eighteen and attending Ithaca college.  I hope she makes enough to buy a house, a cozy little writing shack and continue writing.  She doesn't need college when she can write like this!

Now, that being said, this is definitely for older teens definitely high school at least 16 or older.  There is a lot of sex, but not graphic at all.  A lot of swearing but not gratuitous.  It's just the way this character is.  And the issues of divorce and an alcoholic parent are touched on, not really a lesson on how to deal with it.

Heather in Sandwich


  1. I'm so glad to read you loved this novel and you thought the characters were real. You gave some interesting advice to Keplinger but I don't think you need to worry about college. If she had enough drive and imagination to write this novel then it won't just disappear. So no worries! Thanks for the review!

  2. So you enjoyed this book then - I wonder how I knew? High praise indeed, I get so excited when I read of someone enjoying a book as much as you enjoyed this one.


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