Sunday, February 22, 2015

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Title: The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Format: Hardcover; 288 pages
Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0316084239
Author's Website:
Notes: Borrowed this one from the library.This one was just made into a movie.

Bianca Piper goes with her friends to the local teen hang out, but she never really enjoys it like they do. While sitting and watching them dance from the sidelines she is approached by a guy with a reputation for being the school's biggest man-whore. She is attempting to give him the royal brush off when he confided in her...

"I actually need your help. You see, your friends are hot. And you, darling are the Duff."
"Is that even a word?"
"Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend," he clarified. "No offense, but that would be you." 
"The point is, scientists have proven that every group of friends has a weak link, a Duff. And girls respond well to guys who associate with their Duffs."

And so the dance begins...
This was a very surprising book because it had a nice message packed into a very cute, clever, sometimes serious yet quite humorous story line. In one of the opening scenes Wesley Rush accuses our lead character, Bianca, of being the 'D'esignated 'U'gly 'F'at 'F'riend (ie DUFF). She's not a DUFF by any standards but the guy is playing up on her insecurities. Most girls/women don't like to be called fat and Wesley plays upon that fact. While it took me a while to figure it out, I believe Wesley is actually striking out at Bianca in much the same fashion as he feels she did of him. He's basically being a jerk and paying her back for being rather rude to him. I'm guessing it's his personal type of defense/revenge mechanism and as high school is a time when we gals are at our most vulnerable, he hits his mark. So while Wesley may be all male, I felt the following statement equally applied to him, "Calling Vikki a slut or a whore was just like calling someone the Duff. It was insulting and hurtful, and it was one of those titles that just fed off of an inner fear every girl must have from time to time. Slut, bitch, prude, tease, ditz. They were all the same. Every girl felt like one of these sexist labels described her at some point."

What I loved about the story is we see the impact Bianca has on Wesley and the impact he has on her. Each makes the other take an up close and intimate look at themselves and in doing so realize things they may have never have known about themselves. That realization makes the other a better person for it. The relationship starts off with them being attracted to each other yet despising one another and then slowly coming to the surprising realization that they actually really like and understand each other. At one point in the book there is a line that states, "I was the Duff. And that was a good thing. Because anyone who didn’t feel like the Duff must not have friends. Every girl feels unattractive sometimes. Why had it taken me so long to figure that out? Why had I been stressing over that dumb word for so long when it was so simple? I should be proud to be the Duff. Proud to have great friends who, in their minds, were my Duffs." I felt this was an important because we should all acknowledge our faults and insecurities so we can clearly identify and deal with them properly.   

Some of my favorite lines:
- "Wesley Rush doesn’t chase girls, but I’m chasing you."
- “Bianca, whore is just a cheap word people use to cut each other down,” he said, his voice softer. “It makes them feel better about their own mistakes. Using words like that is easier than really looking into the situation.
- "No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually."

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was fun, witty, clever, and made go from intensely disliking the lead male character to liking him. I love when that happens. This is a story about growing up and into your own skin and liking yourself despite your faults. It's about realizing you should never make quick judgments about another individual because you may not know what is going on behind the scenes (ie "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes"). It is the kind of story everyone can easily relate to and Ms. Keplinger does an excellent job of creating a tale which appears simple at first glance but truly delves into some deep subject matter. While I will admit that as a parent I was cringing quite a bit at the amount of casual sex in the book, I still remember what it is like to be in high school and there was quite a bit of that going on even when I was growing up. A lovely debut for this author. I definitely intend to read more of her books.

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