Publication Date: 9/7/10 (but some stores are already stocking it)
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.
The DUFF is one of those books that made me realize I'm old. I can remember when I was a kid, and how scandalous Judy Blume's Forever was. Seriously. We passed one copy around on the bus, and it was one of those rare books my parents forbid me to read (but I did anyway, of course). Forever is so tame compared to The DUFF that I have to wonder if I grew up in the 19th century, not the 20th!
I'd first heard of this book about seven months ago when I started lurking on the Absolute Write forums. Kody was an active member, and I filed her book away in my memory, as I liked the premise. Sometime after BEA, this book was being promoted here, there and everywhere. So, when I found out that Little Brown would be handing out copies of this at ALA, I made sure to grab a copy, just to see if it lived up to all that hype.
You know what? It does, at least in my opinion. The DUFF is not a book for everyone, as there is a lot cursing and pre-marital sex. Some might find it a bit crass, or just flat out against their beliefs. I've also read reviews where people have found Bianca a bit negative and unlikeable. I didn't feel that way because I identified a lot with Bianca. Her best friends are beautiful and she feels like a frog next to them. I've been there, I think most of us have. She's also dealing with some issues at home, her mom is absentee and her dad is like Bianca, not a big communicator.
Bianca and the class man-whore Wesley begin a closet relationship when things with her parents take a turn for the worse. Bianca tells herself that the intimacy makes her feel better-but it takes both of them awhile to realize that it's not just the sex that connects them, that they share a deeper bond.
I felt the high school experience was very fresh. I've been out of high school for a long time, and I really felt zapped back there while reading this book. I pretty much hated high school, so reading this book wasn't always a comfortable experience-at least for me.
The only real issue I had with this book is that the ending was a bit too happy for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for happy endings, but without giving too much away, I'll just say that bits of it didn't feel realistic to me.
I think The DUFF is a great book for older teens and adults, mainly for the theme, which is that we all feel ugly, and are probably all The DUFF at one point in our life. I wish I had read a book like this when I was a teenager, as I didn't gain perspective until sometime after my high school years.