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.
As soon as I heard about The DUFF by Kody Keplinger and how DUFF stands for 'Designated Ugly Fat Friend' I knew that I would read this book. I was hoping to love it, and I kinda did. I like books that discuss insecurities with body-image. I think it's a topic that most of us can relate with. But I'm not sure this book will be for everyone. Bianca as a character is quite harsh. She's really cynical and snarky and it took me awhile to warm up to her. But to smooth out her harsh edges, we have a couple of great friends and the very HOT Wesley Rush. Mixed with lots of sex and some quite serious issues, The DUFF turned out to be incredibly addictive reading.
So, The DUFF starts out with Bianca and her two besties, Jess and Casey at an underage bar. While her two friends are off dancing, Bianca is sat at the bar passing judgement on those around her. Up strolls hottie Wesley Rush, who Bianca is both attracted to and loathes in equal measure. When Bianca rejects him, he calls her 'The DUFF' and it shatters Bianca. She's always sort of felt like the ugly fat friend next to Casey and Jess and this hurtful label sticks with her during the course of the novel, worming its way into's Bianca's negative inner-voice. When bad things start happening at home, Bianca really needs some way to escape and she ends up turning to Wesley. Despite Wesley calling her 'Duffy' and being a man-whore who Biance detests, Bianca and Wesley start a very intense sexual relationship incredibly quickly. But Bianca can't run from her problems forever and it turns out that Wesley isn't quite as horrible as she once thought.
What I loved most about The DUFF is this label. 'DUFF' is just another word used to tear girls down, like 'bitch' and 'slut' and 'whore.' It does a great job of crippling self-esteem and making girls like Bianca feel inferior and less. Bianca both accepts and hides behind this label, not sharing either her problems at home or her enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley with her friends. But Casey and Jess's reaction to the label 'DUFF' really made my heart happy. The feeling of inferiority is such a common bond amongst girls. I wish I had friendships like Bianca has, one of support and understanding.
The DUFF also really touches on some serious issues. There's a common theme amongst Bianca's family - that of escaping. Bianca escapes through sex with Wesley, her mother by leaving, her father through alcohol. There's no sugar-coating any of these topics. It's quite painful and difficult reading through some of the effects of a relapsed alcoholic, but at the same time there is also no shying away from the amount of sexy-times between Bianca and Wesley. I'd heard of complaints of this before I picked up this book, but for me, it felt like an important aspect of the novel.
Wesley and Bianca, I felt had great chemistry together. The verbal-sparring made me laugh and root for the pair of them. Not a conventional romance at all, especially with Bianca feeling incredibly dirty throughout most of the novel, but in the end turned out to be quite sweet.