The Duff: The designated ugly fat friend by Kody Keplinger
|The Duff: The designated ugly fat friend by Kody Keplinger|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A very relatable teen novel with some great messages about self esteem and recognisable characters. It's somewhat heavy-handed and all is resolved rather too neatly, but a enjoyable, if light, read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: April 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Bianca Piper is proud of her cynicism. She's not an air-head. She's not obsessed with dating jocks. She has no desire to flirt with every male in sight. But when Wesley Rush, the school heartthrob, tells her she's a DUFF - a Designated Ugly Fat Friend - it really gets to Bianca. Things aren't going well for Bianca on the domestic front either. Her mother is away all the time and Bianca is afraid her father might start drinking again, after eighteen years. As things get further and further out of control at home, Bianca finds herself in the most unlikely of place - the arms of the hated Wesley Rush.
It's pointlessly self-destructive, of course - someone as gorgeous as Wesley could never feel anything for a Duff like Bianca. Or could he?
The Duff is a very relatable teen novel with some great messages about self esteem. As Keplinger, through Bianca, quite correctly notes, we've all felt like the Duff at one time or another. Hell, we've probably all been the Duff at one time or another. And that's completely normal, healthy even. Not everybody can be the most beautiful in every group they become part of but we can all be the most beautiful in somebody's eyes. The trick is in understanding this and it's something that comes with age, experience, and the odd emotional bruise.
The thing is, communication is also vital. And this, for me, is where The Duff falls down. Bianca is a sarcastic, cyncial girl with a great line in verbal put-downs and a jaded view of high school life and the dating scene generally. She's also bright and intelligent and funny. But of course, under the spiky exterior she's as lacking in confidence as everyone else. Her main problem comes from hiding her problems. She doesn't tell her friends what's going on at home. She doesn't talk to her father about his alcoholic relapse and she doesn't even tell her mother it's happened. She doesn't tell Wesley how she really feels. As much as understanding about the Duff is an important step for Bianca, learning to communicate is just as important. And yet she ends the book almost as secretively as she begins it. Every confession, every bit of honesty, has to be dragged from her and she really doesn't show any signs of changing.
As with many light romances, it's all a bit heavy-handed. Readers won't find a single surprise in the Duff. Every tiny aspect of the plot is finished with perfect neatness. Even so, the book is a pleasure to read - there's some great dialogue, the emotional landscape is comfortingly familiar and the whole thing is genuinely good-hearted without being saccharine. This isn't a subtle or challenging read, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.
You might also enjoy Sea Change by Kate Cann, a fabulous mix of stunning scenery, scrumptious food and irresistible bad boys, or Good Girls by Laura Ruby - one moment of indiscretion threatens to ruin Audrey's final year of school, but as she struggles through, she realises that life does go on and that she can survive the unthinkable.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Duff: The designated ugly fat friend by Kody Keplinger at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Duff: The designated ugly fat friend by Kody Keplinger at Amazon.com.
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