Friday, June 25, 2010
Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Title: The DUFF
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
Pub. Date: 9.7.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Friendship, Sex, Relationships, Love, Body Image
Description (from GoodReads):
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 "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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'll admit that I didn't want to read The DUFF. Not one little bit. I kept hearing people talk about it and how excited they were and I just wanted to run in the opposite direction. The fact of the matter was, I didn't want to read a book about a "designated ugly fat friend," not when I felt like one myself. I suppose you could say that I was a bit afraid of Kody Keplinger's debut novel. I can now say that I would have been kicking myself forever if I hadn't given this novel a chance. Before I'd even finished reading, I realized that The DUFF is one the best contemporary YA novels I've ever read and that I may never be able to get it out of my head.
There were so many aspects of this novel that touched me emotionally. It feels cheesy to say that The DUFF inspired me, but there really is no other way to put it. As far back as elementary school, I've felt like the DUFF. Of course, I knew that my friends, who I think are gorgeous, intelligent girls, didn't like things about themselves, but, for the most part, I dismissed their complaints and insecurities. In my mind, they had nothing to complain about... at least not compared to me. I knew that my insecurities were magnified by my negative body image and self-esteem issues, but I could never truly bring myself to turn this self-destructive behavior around. Somehow, Keplinger's words and Bianca's story finally allowed me do this. For years, I've been putting myself down by comparing myself to my friends, when, in reality, we have all have flaws and characteristics that make us amazing and unique. Seeing how Bianca puts herself down, when the reader can clearly see that she's an amazing, vibrant person with so much to offer, really drove this truth about myself home. I truly believe that every girl, and many boys. have felt like or will feel like the DUFF at some point in their lives, and I applaud Kody Keplinger for having the guts - and the wisdom - to write Bianca's story because it's a story everyone can relate to.
I was surprised, but unbelievably happy to find that Keplinger tackles teen sex in The DUFF. Her treatment of the controversial topic is honest and, in my opinion, perfectly done. I can sincerely say that I have never read a sex scene in a YA novel that I believed as much as those found in The DUFF. I didn't feel that Keplinger condoned or discouraged teen sex, she merely presented a realistic portrayal, and, for that, I'm extremely grateful. I have no problem with sex in YA, but I firmly believe that if it's going to be incorporated, it must be done with tact. In my mind, Keplinger has written successfully what many seasoned writers cannot.
It was the romantic plot line that finally convinced me to pick up The DUFF. I can never resist a good love story and Keplinger did a phenomenal job. I find that I like my main character and her romantic interest to bicker and fight and sometimes flat our hate one another before they realize that, against all odds, that hate may have transformed into love - with some passion in between. I'm a huge fan of tension and denial and grand gestures and Keplinger's romance left me sighing happily. I'm especially impressed by the author's ability to nearly make me hate Wesley as much as Bianca does (at the beginning of the novel) and still have me completely in love with him by the end. I was terrified that he was just as bad as Bianca thought he was. And, in ways, I suppose he was. He was definitely flawed, he is, after all, a teenage boy, but he has so many wonderful qualities as well. Bianca and Wesley's romance is will and forever be one of my favorites.
I'll definitely be buying myself a copy of The DUFF. And I'll definitely be recommending [forcing] my sisters and friends to read it as well. I'm in awe of this remarkable debut novel and I urge each and every one of you to read it, especially if you can say that you've ever felt like the a DUFF.
I think this cover is perfect for the novel. It's bold and the cover model seems almost defiant, like she's bored and she isn't afraid to show it, which definitely reminds me of Bianca.