Sunday, February 17, 2013

The DUFF, by Kody Keplinger

Bianca really hates Wesley, the biggest Lothario in her high school.  She hates him even worse when he tells her she is the DUFF of her group of friends.  DUFF, designated ugly fat friend.  The weak link.  Wesley eventually nicknames her Duffy, further fueling her hatred.  Oddly enough, Bianca's complete and utter disdain for Wesley translates into unbridled passion, and they secretly begin hooking up.  It starts out as a way for Bianca to use Wesley to run from her problems, but before she knows it, it becomes more.

This book was all the rage among young adult literature fans a couple of years ago.  I purchased it, and it sat on my shelf until this weekend.  I could not bring myself to read it.  Why would I need to read about the DUFF?  I was the DUFF for many years, at least that is how I felt.  After reading the book, I understand that many, if not all, girls have felt like this at some point in their lives.  Girls are raised to see each other as competition, to be hardest on ourselves, and to downplay our own value.  This book does a great job of taking all these inaccurate thoughts and smashing them to bits.  

Because this book is written by a young adult author, the characters are incredibly realistic.  They talk like real teens, think like real teens, and act like real teens.  The situations encountered in the book are also quite realistic; these are the real kinds of things teens are dealing with in high school.  Because this book is such an accurate portrayal of teen life, I was really engaged and connected as a reader.  I saw so much of myself in Bianca, it is no wonder I ran from this book for so long, just like she ran from her problems.  

Teen sex plays a big part in the storyline of this book, and I know this makes a lot of adult readers uncomfortable.  But I think the reality is, teen sex, particularly casual teen sex and frequent changes in sexual partners, is quite common, and avoiding the topic in teen literature will not solve the problem.  Instead, this book tackles it head on, and also points out why casual teen sex can be detrimental (there is mention of the possibilities of both STDs and teen pregnancy, as well and discussion about how this negatively effects self esteem).

The book is a quick and easy read, but still tackles some tough subject matter.  So many teen girls spent time calling each other names and cutting each other down, usually in an attempt to make themselves feel better.  The book examines this type of self loathing, and tries to correct some of the flawed thinking.  All in all, I really enjoyed the book, and can see many young adult readers relating to the story.

This book is from my personal library, all opinions are honest and original.



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