Synopsis Snippet: 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. So when the school’s “slut” Wesley Rush nicknames her “Duffy,” she isn’t surprised. But things aren’t so great at home and, desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. The fun begins when Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
The Cast: A crew of angst-filled white highschool students. One mostly off-screen homosexual guy. Bianca’s best friend Casey was by far my favorite character for her straight-forward mannerisms and the dialogue she gets.
Romance Aspects: This is all about the love. Of boys, of oneself of one’s friends. If you’re looking for a tension-filled love story then this will be right up your alley.
Language: Though at times rather simpering and certainly likely to be annoying if listened to on audiobook; the teen voices are mostly realistic. There is some swearing but the author does go out of their way to stuff the 4 letter words down your throat. The text isn’t overly flowery but neither is it especially dark or gritty. It keeps pretty light with a few deeper nuggets for further thought thrown in along the way.
Fat treatment: This is all about being and/or feeling like the Ugly Fat Friend. So, of course, the implied connection is that Fat is automatically linked with Ugly; can’t have one without the other. By the end, though, it seems like everyone admits they feel or have felt before, like they are the least desirable of their group. So it actually ends up a bit of a push to recognize that no one is satisfied with their body in today’s world. Still, a rough ride as we follow Bianca’s self-image struggles.
Review: Bianca is already feeling like an outcast at a bar party while her friends dance and she nurses a Cherry Coke at the counter. When the rather appealing body and irritating voice of Wesley interrupts her sullen self-pity party she gets angry. But there is a lot of stress in her homelife so she takes her bottled feelings and pushes her hatred for this free-love style guy into passion. The love-hate relationship with Wesley turns into love-hate relationship WITH BENEFITS as she uses him for sex and hides it from her friends. A lot of strain and tension in relationships and some serious self-growth/self-awareness occur before things get worked out.
It was at times a tough read for how contradictory Bianca seems yet she feels real in her struggle to find herself and come to gripes with being dubbed the “Duff” of her group. Both Bianca and Wesley find answers they didn’t expect and by the end I rather enjoyed the story and the characters.
Great Quotes: Some awesome tidbits that might get your curiosity going.
“Standing there in the bathroom, listening as she told me her story, I couldn’t help but wonder if she’d been running away from something, too. If I’d been judging her, thinking of her as a slut all this time when, in reality, we were living scarily similar lives.”
“He wasn’t perfect, or even remotely close, for that matter, but, hey neither was I. We were both pretty fucked up. Somehow, though, that made everything more exciting. Yeah, it was sick and twisted, but that’s reality, right? Escape is impossible, so why not embrace it?”
“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. So, maybe, every girl felt like the Duff, too?”
“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.”
Final Verdict: At first an awkward and tense read that I wouldn’t want to hear personified via audiobook. However, the characters and storyline grew on me and I found myself wanting to know how it ended. The bonus cherry on top is that this was written by a girl who was still in high school who always identified as the DUFF in school.
So, have you read this yet? Would you now want to? Would you suggest it to someone else? Would reading about being the DUFF be a huge turn-off or are there days when you’d relish a novel about struggles similar to your own?