Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, by Kody Keplinger

Kody Keplinger
Copy borrowed from library.
Cybils nominee.
Remember that episode of Average Joe, many moons ago, when the bachelorette was dressed in a fat suit and introduced to the bachelors as her own cousin? And while the guys were polite to her face (or ignored her completely), behind her back they said really awful things about her, and one guy went off on how she was obviously the DUFF - not knowing he was being taped, and that not only the bachelorette, but everyone in TV-land was watching and listening?

Not that we ever watched that show, of course. We just...er...heard about it.

At any rate, the guy that made the DUFF comment was summarily sent home, and to this day probably gets slapped upside the head by his grandmother on a regular basis. Because it's rude, right? It's really mean and awful and the guy made himself look like a jerk, right? Of course, he thought he was just talking to other like-minded guys. How much more of a jerk would he be if he, say, walked up to the 'cousin' and said all those things to her face?  And that, boys and girls, is how you paint one of your main characters as a complete and utter jerk in 100 words or less.

Because yes, that is what Wesley does. And then she kisses him. But later. But wait! Don't turn away in disgust, because this isn't a "gosh you're a jerk but you're so cute and I'm so worthless I can't help it" kiss, this is an angry, "I still hate you but that just makes it easier to use you" kiss. There's a difference, trust us. Sound complicated? It is! She is! And in case you've forgotten, high school is!

As much as we may hate some of the choices Bianca makes, we can't help becoming firmly entrenched on her side from the very start. She's a good person, a good friend, and by no means a doormat, but Wesley's "DUFF" comments have hit the heart of every teenage girl's insecurities. Every girl feels at some point that she is the weak link among her firends, that she is the one who doesn't measure up. Add in some serious problems at home, and who wouldn't want an escape of some sort?

Yes, we pretty much knew how it would all end, but we didn't care. We were happy with the ending. We were happy with the realistic characters and relationships. We were VERY happy with some of the insights that came to Bianca and her friends. And we are especially happy that turtles never really have to go through adolescence. We give it a

5 out of 5.

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.

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