The DUFF [Designated Ugly Fat Friend] by Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
Release Date: September 2007
Synopsis: 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.
Comments: Mixed. Like a bowl of cookie dough batter that’s been sitting out on the kitchen table for a whole day in warm heat. Like the dough is delicious, but I’m sure the heat did something funky to the dough. Are the raw eggs in it still safe to eat? But it’s still so tasty, this little scooped I scooped up and so I scoop up more. And like dough that’s been sitting in warm heat for several hours, some people have the constitution for this book and others won’t. Ultimately, I didn’t. I like parts of it – like how I liked the sweetness of the sitting dough and the chocolate bits. However, in the end, the book didn’t sit well with me … much like the dough that was left out for 8 hours in the 100+ degree weather and my friend and I decided to eat it and I got sick and he didn’t.
It’s the not sex that bother me. Oh yeah, there’s sex in this book. Several times in fact. Now, it’s nothing like harlequin romance novels where the descriptions are fully blown out. But there are references and leading insinuating details that makes the reader understand what act was being done. So if you want a “clean” book this is NOT for you.
The teens in this book does things that many teens do. I remember, from my high school years, hearing how my peers did the same things stated in this book. I remember being grossed out at the fact of them switching partners every week and then switching back to their previous partners the following week and hearing about their sexual activities through gossip and unintentional eavesdropping. It still grosses me out. For me. Personally. For them. I just don’t care. As long as both parties are willing. So this book, was real to my experience based on the events and activities of the teens in this book. Judging from shows like Teen Mom and the like, my high school experience though it be over a decade ago is still relevant.
So what was my problem? I didn’t like Bianca. Her excuses or attitude. I wasn’t sympathetic towards her. Ultimately, this was due to a lack of scenes or internal monologue (or of both intermixed) to make me understand her. Yes, there’s the blanket of using someone to make you forget about some troubling matter. I understand why she did it. But I couldn’t sympathize with her. I knew why she did it. But I couldn’t feel for her. She tells herself she’s bad and then suddenly BAM! She just throws herself onto the guy. Then tells herself it’s an escape. And repeats. But there’s no show of remorse, just verbal. Just words of “This is wrong.” and repeat. I wanted to see her struggles and feel her hurt. But with the book being under 300 pages, that wasn’t going to happen.
I feel like I’m not getting the point across of what I’m trying to say.
Bianca tells herself her actions are deplorable and yet she does them again and again. But after each contact, she just says it was a mistake and has self doubt because she’s a DUFF. There’s no moment of recollection. No moment of anger or joy or tears to criticize herself. Just plain words of how a horrible person she is and repeats. And words alone just makes her experience seems so shallow when the things she are dealing with aren’t.
For example, her relationship with her dad and the scenes revolving around her and her dad. I greatly enjoyed them because I was able to see their interaction with one another, able to feel through empathy because of visual interaction. However, when it came to Bianca and herself she just generalized everything and that generalization of herself detracted the whole book for me. In the end, I just didn’t like her because I couldn’t relate to her, empathized with her feeling of her life enclosing on her, suffocating her. I knew what was happening but couldn’t bring myself to care.
The characters in this book are all your typical stereotypical high school students. However, I think it works overall. Another thing. This book was Keplinger’s first book. Which she wrote when she was 17. Which I say is amazing. I have read books written by established authors that didn’t read quite as well as this one, so kudos.
And this review was longer than I thought. Sorry.
Why the Recommendation: Because the words “fat friend” is in both titles. Okay not really. Well kinda… because these two books touches upon the perception of beauty and what they mean to us and others. Because both book covers the “fat friend”, the less desirable one, the one that gets friend zoned… and how they get over looked in love.
Why the Recommendation: Both guys in this book have “issues.” Because of these issues they take it out on girls. Whether one decides to ban and shuns girls or deciding to sleep with any and all girls. By the end, our main girl ends up transforming these two guys through the power of love. (Man that sounds way corny, but every book sounds corny when you simplify them to their basics.)