Book Depository • Published by Little Brown on September 7, 2010
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.
I know, I know, finally, right? Right. I’ve finally read one of the most critically (or bloggerly, to be more precise) acclaimed books OF ALL TIME of all the Contemporary YA literature. Yes, yes, good.
Trigger (because this book is rather intense): There’s a scene in which her dad is drunk and he hits her once.
The humor in this novel is on point. I really love YA novels that bring the humor to balance out the not-so-humorous times. It’s not the kind of book that turns from one feeling to another on a dime, but I appreciated that. It’s definitely not a crying book, but I did laugh out loud at some of the lines.
Put your pants on, we have an essay to write.
The best friend-ness. How often do you see active best friends in a YA novel!?!?!?!?! NEVERRRRR. Just kidding, but half of the time when the MC is all “Woe is me, I am unattractive,” they tend to be friendless. But even when Bianca is being shady, Jessica and Casey confront her about it. Also, I’m glad that their dialogue isn’t just boy-related. It was really refreshing.
This isn’t necessarily a good situation, but it is well-written: the parents and the divorce and the dealing with her dad’s alcoholism. DUUUUUUUUDE. Like, dudes. Yes, Bianca does run from it. Yes, she does some things that aren’t emotionally healthy. BUT. When she does deal with the things like talking to her mom and talking to her dad, it’s really, really good. Of course, she’s not the most eloquent person ever, but when she finally confronts certain situations, she’s honest. And the writing about her dad’s relapse was honest and dealt with very, very well.
Digging Deeper + AHA! Moment:
There were times when I thought, “You really think that, Bianca?!” When she talks about her perceptions of herself as well as her perceptions of other people and what people may think about her. It’s actually a really interesting study of how we view ourselves opposed to how we view others. And how we compare (and relate) ourselves to others, as well. It isn’t all about physical looks, but also how we’re perceived. Bianca talks about Vikki, who ~sleeps with all the guys~. Bianca has her AHA! Moment when she realizes that we’re all Duffs and we all think about what other people say and think about us.
There were some “Really, Bianca?!” moments when she said or thought things that weren’t good (mostly the slut shaming), but I’m pretty sure it all — or mostly all — gets resolved by the end of the novel.
I mean, the idea about The Duff kicks off with a boy — Wesley Rush. He’s the school… flirt?! Let’s just say that his motto is, “I don’t chase girls, girls chase me.” He has quite the reputation for sleeping around. His character gets more complex as the novel progresses (thank goodness) and he does quite a bit of realizing for himself (thank goodness x1000).
Jake is someone we get a secondhand account of, but don’t actually meet. The ex-who-wasn’t-really-an-ex who had Bianca as his lady-on-the-side. Gross. He isn’t a redeemable character, to me. Gross.
Toby. Oh, sweet Toby. He’s the boy Bianca has had a crush on since… forever. He’s genuinely a good guy. A little pretentious, but it works for him. He didn’t really have much to him, but his presence did what was necessary.
I can see why people love this book so much! It’s a really well-rounded book. The writing was great in regards to humor, truth, and all of that. Rarely does a book leave me wanting to write a review as soon as I finish, but this was an exception. I know that there are hundreds of reviews out there about this book, but YOWZA. This book packs a punch. I felt like I experienced a whole range of emotions while reading The Duff and I can’t wait to read more of Kody’s work!
A song that popped in my head while reading this novel: