The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Published by Hodder Children's Books
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 must say I wasn't convinced when I read the back of this book that I'd actually like it but actually by the end I really loved it.
Bianca is an interesting character. She is loyal with two best friends she adores. She is always quite happy to be the quite one and take a back seat to her frieds which doesn't really bother her until Wesley, the school's biggest sleaze, informs her she is The Duff of her friendship group - The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Despite it hurting her without thinking about it in the next minute she ends up kissing him before thinking better of it and throwing her coke all over him. She's one of those characters who you'll either love or hate. I found the more I read the more I liked her as I started to get under the skin of her insecurities and the reasons why she she did the things she did.
The main story line looks at the the bizarre relationship that develops between Bianca and Wesley. It initially starts being a relationship based purely on sex. I was actually taken quite by surprise that the book didn't shy away from this. I often find YA books often gloss over the fact that teenagers actually have sex or try to make a great deal about characters being in love with their dearest forever before they even consider sleeping together. Whilst I can see why this message is put forward I don't think it is a completely realistic or even necessarily healthy image for teens to see every day because it is so narrow.
I liked that over the time the relationship between the two changes from one where they are clearly using one another to one which is much more tender and sweet. I loved seeing how the change was linked to the other events going on in Bianca's life. I especially loved the scene where Bianca's father loses it and Wesley saves her.
I thing this story has a huge amount to say about self esteem and way in which can hurt others even if we don't realise we're doing it vi throw away comments and nicknames which actually hurt more than the person lets on. There is a scene where Bianca talks to another girl who the other girls in school are talking about which is really touching.
A fantastic from an author which I will be looking to read more from in the future.