AUTHOR: Kody Keplinger
PUBLISHER: Little Brown/Poppy
PUBLICATION DATE: Sept. 20, 2010
SOURCE: public library/Overdrive
GENRE: contemporary romance
GIVE IT TO: upper-HS, reluctant readers
SUMMARY: While waiting miserably for her partying friends in the “bar” area of a teen dance club, 17-year old Bianca encounters Wesley Rush, a boy with a reputation as a “man whore” at their school. Wesley teases Bianca, calling her the DUFF–the Designated Ugly Fat Friend–which Bianca absolutely hates. Never one to back down from an argument, Bianca dumps her Cherry Coke on Wesley and storms off. But it isn’t long before Bianca finds herself kissing Wesley and eventually in an enemies-with-benefits sexual relationship with him. But as Bianca’s family problems go from bad to worse, Bianca is surprised to find that Wesley is a good listener whose family is also imperfect.
REVIEW: I loved this book and finished it in one sitting. Bianca’s sarcastic remarks cracked me up, and I loved Wesley’s comebacks. I really felt the chemistry that grew between Bianca and Wesley and rooted for them all the way through. Yes, Wesley was a JERK, but Bianca isn’t a sweetie-pie herself. Their personalities fit together perfectly.
I also loved Bianca’s two best friends and their take on the term “DUFF.” I love how they know each other really well and support each other during hard times. For once, the best friends did not irritate me!
The DUFF features a frank and realistic discussion of sexuality, and for that reason, high school librarians may want to review it prior to purchase. There is a TON of language, and the sexual content is closer to New Adult than YA. However, if I had a HS daughter who hated reading, I might give her this book. Many teens can handle this content just fine, and I like how sex is explored honestly in this one. Characters use condoms 100% of the time, yet they are still concerned about the risk of pregnancy and STD.
There will be people who say that the sexual content is way too high for teens, and I’m not here to debate that. Parents and teens need to make their own reading choices, and I agree that The DUFF might not be for everyone. But there is absolutely a market for this book. Teens are more aware of sex than many adults would like to admit, and for some, sexual activity begins in their early teens. Regardless of how their parents feel about it (or even know about it), some teens do use sex to escape problems and stress. Those teens will identify with Bianca and see themselves in her character. And there is character growth concerning this issue: eventually, Bianca figures out that she deserves more respect than perpetual one-night stands.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The DUFF is a fun, funny read that kept me engrossed the entire time. Due to mature sexual content, high school librarians considering this title are advised to read it before purchasing.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: Sexual content is way too high for middle school.
READALIKES: Fat Hoochie Prom Queen (Medina)
- Overall: 5/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Engrossing: 5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Appeal to teens: 5/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: very high; includes lots of fu**, bit**, sh**, ass, damn
- Sexuality: very high; frequent casual sex, open discussion of sex, oral sex, frequent use of terms “whore” and “slut”; possible pregnancy of a minor character; discussion of STD; condom use
- Violence: mild; one minor assault
- Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium; Bianca’s father is recovering alcoholic who relapses