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.
Initial Thoughts by Sophie
Despite my initial hesitance on reading this book, I was intrigued by the idea of “DUFF”. The more I thought about it, the more the “Designated, Ugly, Fat, Friend” topic seemed realistic. There is some truth in those words especially in high school.
I was interested in how the plot was going to develop around the idea of “DUFF”. The book cover my teen book club got was the cover of the actors from the movie. At first, we commented on how the main character, Bianca didn’t really qualify as ugly or fat. But after reading the book, I realized the term “DUFF” can be applied to anyone because there is always a “DUFF’ amongst a group of friends no matter if they are actually pretty or thin.
“I was the Duff. And that was a good thing. Because anyone who didn’t feel like the Duff must not have friends. Every girl feels unattractive sometimes. Why had it taken me so long to figure that out? Why had I been stressing over that dumb word for so long when it was so simple? I should be proud to be the Duff. Proud to have great friends who, in their minds, were my Duffs.”
Thoughts about characters
There is a lot of conflicting opinions on Bianca, the protagonist. Bianca, labeled as cynical by the synopsis, is quite jaded and cynical. Throughout the most of the book, she refuses to do this and that, judges people as jerks/b——-/sluts/pushovers, and choses sex and boy toys over family and friends. Of course, I realized that she is really insecure. Could be because of her mostly absent Mom, her alcoholic Dad, and her own label as the “DUFF”.
To me, it was really conflicting. I just hate that she is so negative all the time. Throughout my life, I learned that I shouldn’t be friends with people who put you down, put others down, and even put themselves down. Bianca does this so many times that I feel sad for her friends – heck- even Wesley!
There are some redeeming qualities about her. Upon realizing that she has been running away from her problems, she decides she can’t live her life like that. She truly cares for her family and friends’ feelings. It is true she doesn’t actually do much to show her affection but as readers, we can read into her words and say she does care. She worries about her father’s alcohol problem. She yearns for a better relationship with her mother. Things like that. It’s also ironic how Bianca’s mother is a motivational/insecurities speaker when Bianca is struggling through the book.
Bianca’s friends, Casey and Jessica:
In contrast, her friends like Casey and Jessica are great friends. They stick with her, wait at her house to be there for her after Bianca’s first date, keep their distance when they feel Bianca needs space, feel angry/sad when Bianca chose to bottle things up and say “it’s fine”, etc. Especially Casey, she is amazing. Having divorced parents, pressure of club activities, and putting aside time for friends, she is a strong person.
It was a bit hurtful when Bianca called Casey a “preppy cheerleader snob”. That might’ve worked if it was someone else but Casey didn’t represent those mean girls/ wild girls stereotype. She was a downright loyal friend. And in this case, I learned that we can say a lot of things about people without actually thinking if they are who we think they are. It is refreshing to see the protagonist with flaws and I liked that her friends call her out on it too.
“You are not a whore.” … I didn’t know Vikki that well. I didn’t know what her home life was like or anything that personal aside from her boy issues. And 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 her as a slut all this time when, in reality, we were living scarily similar lives.
The encounter with Vicki and Bianca in the bathroom was very nice. Their conversation felt real and awkward to me and I loved that. It seem real how they both talked to each other. Throughout the whole book they distrusted each other and almost even hated each other. So, the last moment to me was like a truce or a small line of understanding.
Throughout the weeks, I have been seeing and hearing advertisements for the “DUFF” movie. It came to my attention that the movie and the books have different storylines. I noticed the change when in the video, Wesley says “I used to be a Duff.” Did he ever say those words in the book? Maybe he did. I wonder why they changed the storyline? Is the change better for the story?
Rating or Recommendation
3 out of 5. [Note: One time book, Will not re-read]
For a few weeks I have been contemplating this. At first, I was gonna give it a 2.5 but I just couldn’t do it. The book was a bit bland and just normal. Although the protagonist has her flaws, it was nice to see her encounter them and learn to grow. I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t really feel like watching it but the movie looks more lively. It would be interesting to see how they work the whole alcoholic dad, out of touch mom, and a whole lot of sex into a teen movie.