Book Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Synopsis: Bianca is the DUFF, the designated fat friend… but only by comparison to her two model-gorgeous best friends. Not that she knew about being the DUFF until the school’s player, Wesley Rush, told her in a club and she threw a drink in his face. But as Bianca’s life starts falling apart, she starts turning to Wesley for distraction and ends up falling for him…

Author: This is Kody Keplinger’s debut novel, and she is only nineteen-years-old. She started writing this book after she was introduced to the work and realized she was the DUFF in her group of friends.

Hook: The very fact that it is assumed every group of girls has a designated ugly fat friend. You wonder who the DUFF is in your circle and what happens to this DUFF?

Location: I don’t recall if the novel ever explicitly said it took place in a specific country, it only mentioned being in the town of Hamilton. Needless to say, there is more than one Hamilton and I kept getting thrown off as to whether the book took place in Ontario or New York. I automatically assumed it was American since the publisher is based there, but the novel does allow you to just think its your average sized town anywhere in North America.

Plot/Subplot: The main focus of this story is Bianca’s life falling a part, yet it is doing so in many different ways. Bianca’s parents going through the process of a divorce and then Bianca having to deal with the fall out of an alcoholic father. Getting into a love-hate relationship with a boy that she loves to hate yet is falling in love with, but hates that she’d likely get her heart broken. And having to keep secrets from her friends, which causes an argument and hurts feelings.

Themes: There are two intertwined themes of friendship and being the DUFF. The book shows that even if you are dissimilar and have disagreements, friendship can last forever through the ups and downs of life. Friends help you through all issues including self-confidence troubles… but they can also give you those confidence issues if you are the least attractive member of the group. So even if you are the DUFF, real friends will stand by you in all walks of life.

Character: The great thing is that you tend to see parts of yourself in the three best friends. Bianca represents feeling unattractive at some point in their your life. Casey always knows when something is wrong and willing to listen. I have to admit, I’m probably the Jessica of my group: the naïve, bubbly, virginal type who doesn’t swear. “She was our sunshine and [we] were kind of in the dark without her… [she] had one of those contagious smiles that made it really hard to be negative when she was so freaking bubbly.”

Character Development: I thought Wesley could use a little more rounding out as to why he did the things he was, a little more detailed in his problematic home life. He ended up being just a touch too flat, but was nevertheless still an acceptable male love/hate interest.

Point of Interest: I like the fact that a DUFF doesn’t even have to be ugly and fat, they are just the person who is less noticeable than the others in the group. They don’t even need to be the least attractive person, just the one who appears to be less of a “catch” for various reasons (such as doesn’t make the most of their looks, has a less than friendly attitude, is the protector of the group).

Quotes: You, darling, are the DUFF. Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend. It’s not like you’re an ogre or anything, but in comparison…

It was insulting and hurtful, and it was one of those titles that just fed off of an inner fear every girl must have from time to time. Every girl felt like of [the] sexist labels described her at some point.

The Verdict: I loved this book! Even though it is a YA novel, you can always relate to feeling like the DUFF.

Do you have a DUFF in your circle of friends? How do you feel about that? 

 Previous Reviews:  Only the Good Spy Young,  WildefirePersonal DemonsHalf-Blood

Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading, writing, and editing.

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