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The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Hardcover
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–Bianca Piper, 17, is smart, outspoken, and loyal to her two beautiful friends. She is also convinced that she is unattractive, an opinion confirmed when school hottie and “man-whore” Wesley Rush calls her a “Duff” (designated ugly fat friend). Bianca responds by throwing her Cherry Coke in his face, but when her mother decides to divorce her father, who then lapses into drinking again, she becomes involved in a secretive sexual relationship with Wesley to take her mind off her problems. Bianca finds that as their love/hate relationship continues, she is falling in love with him. Not surprisingly, Wesley, who has family problems of his own, reciprocates and announces that, although he doesn't chase girls, he is chasing her. Eventually, everything comes to a satisfying but predictable conclusion. This debut novel is a fun read and surprisingly feminist in a number of ways. Keplinger makes good points about female body image and female friendship, and discusses how both men and women use offensive terms about women as a means of social control. Bianca and the other female characters are more believable and realistic than Wesley, who is straight out of female romantic fantasyland. It is a little difficult to understand why Bianca would get involved with him after he insults her, but in their romantic scenes, there is some seriously hot chemistry. These teens are realistically and openly sexual, and there are frequent discussions of such matters as birth control and STDs, as well as a few F-bombs. Older girls, including reluctant readers, will love this one.–Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Duff stands for “designated ugly fat friend.” And while 17-year-old Bianca isn’t that fat or ugly, that’s what Wesley calls her as he tries to hook up with her more desirable gal pals. But Bianca has a surprise for him when she kisses him in response. Then, as her life gets more complicated (parents divorcing, father back on the bottle), she finds it easy to drown her own sorrows in their hot, no-strings-attached sex. There are subtle strings, however, especially as Bianca and Wesley find they are not quite what the other supposed. Lots of language, plenty of sex (well, instances, if not images), and contemporary references make this feel of the moment. But the underlying worry about one’s place in the sun is eternal. Teens will relate, even though the problems, especially at home, seem a retread and the characterizations are on the thin side. What’s best here is Bianca’s brazen voice. Even when confused, she is truer to herself than most. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
“No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually.”
OMIGOSH YOU GUYS! I loved this book!! Like seriously, I kind of can't believe how much I loved a book that literally means "ugly fat friend".
Over the years I've seen this book in passing, in the library, bookstores, and lists titled "Best Book Boyfriends". I never picked it up because come on. Look at the title. Now look at the cover. Based on those two things, would you read it? Well this is an extreme case of don't judge a book by its cover... or its title.
Bianca is a cynical girl, but her friends don't mind it. They love her for who she is. One night when all three are out, Bianca finds herself near the school manwhore Wesley, who proceeds to educate her on the fact that she is the Duff. Designated Ugly Fat Friend. This title makes Bianca's head spin, and she goes into a small identity crisis. On top of that, things aren't so good with her parents and her life around her is falling apart. Assigned to work on a project together, Bianca and Wesley end up having a secret friends with benefits relationship, both trying to escape their crappy real lives.
As I stated before, I loved this book. Because it surprised me. Bianca was a character I loved so much. She was ridiculously cynical, and I guess maybe I am too because most of the time when she would say something, I'd be sitting there nodding my head and going "hey, I would say that!"
And this book had some seriously funny moments and dialogue in it. For example:
“Spanish, huh?" he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. "Can you say anything interesting?"
"El tono de tu voz hace que queria estrangularme." I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
"That sounds sexy," he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he'd swept together. "What's it mean?"
"The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself."
“Your sense of humor needs some work, then," Wesley suggested. "Most girls find my jokes charming."
"Those girls must have IQs low enough to trip over.”
“I mean, there is a reason its initials are VD. I bet you more people contract syphilis on Valentine's Day than on any other day of the year. What a cause for celebration.”
Despite having a sense of humor, this book also dealt with serious teen issues. Bianca's parents were going through a divorce and her dad was becoming less and less present, and she didn't know how to deal with it. Bianca's former jerk of an ex-boyfriend shows up in town with his new fiance. Wesley's parents are always gone and his crone of a grandmother won't let him see his sister. Lots of teen drama rama.
The other things that surprised me about this book? There was so much sex! Like from the beginning. Would you look at this hot pink and yellow cover and think you were in for a large round of young adult fade to black? Not me! It was kind of refreshing to read a teen book and have it be realistic about what teens are experiencing in real life.
And Wesley. *sigh* I loved that guy. Like, he was such a freaking jerk in the beginning, but like Bianca, the more I saw him in the book I couldn't help but swoon over his arrogant butt. I agree with the list, he's a great book boyfriend.
“Don’t lie to yourself because you think it’s safer. Reality doesn’t work like that."
At the end of the day, everyone who reads this review is going to read whatever the heck they want. I'm the same way. But, I encourage you to ignore the title and cover, and to read this gem of a book.
You can predict pretty much everything that is going to happen from the start of the book. It seems like a bunch of chick flicks/books combined... Bianca is a grumpy girl who hangs out with the popular kids, but doesn't seem to think that she belongs when she is obviously not as pretty as everyone else (which is weird, considering her mom lectures people professionally about loving yourself). Half the things she does in this book don't make sense. It's like she's just not thinking at all, but thinking too much at the same time. I understand that the author was in her teens when she wrote this, so the seemingly random actions of the main character compared with the rash decisions makes more sense. The random introduction to Wuthering Heights nearing the end of the book paired with Bianca's end decision seems also a little silly. It's like Keplinger really wanted this book to be an insightful, feminist, unique take on relationships in high school, but it ended up just being overly predictable.
Again, I won't lie and say that I didn't like it. I was intrigued, and still wanted to finish. Wesley seemed extremely attractive to me, being that he's a jerk, but giving the opposing love interest a bowl cut and making him wear blazers to school just seems like a little much. I am interested in seeing how the movie interpreted the characters, but judging from the cover, it looks a LOT different.
Many other reviewers write on what they think of the main characters. From what we see of the hero, he is practically the perfect romantic lead. He does, however, get upset a few times when the heroine is yelling at him and calling him things. This happens very rarely, but, the one time, before he really gets to know her, he lets his mouth run and calls her a Duff. After that he uses the term affectionately when he refers to her, as that meeting IS what gets her to really notice him and starts off their relationship. He also stops using that as a nickname for her when she tells him she doesn't like it. She, on the other hand is rather a rude and abrasive character who would be hard to like if the story wasn't told from her perspective.
Anyhow, this turned out to be a fun, good, lite read.