The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Came out: September 7, 2010
Source: Kindle eBook
Age Group: Young Adult
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 “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out 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.
To be honest, it was much better than I was expecting. Although not as good as some YA novels, it was still enjoyable. While I did not like the theme of casual sex (Wesley and Bianca) it was a pretty good storyline with good messages, including that you shouldn't label people and that each person is unique and special.Although, the romance wasn't very realistic: Wesley goes from being a complete jerk to falling in love with her after having sex. That seems to send mixed messages to the reader, that it's okay to have casual sex. If you would like to read more about Kody's intent/views on the standpoint of positive sex messages (which I agree with by the way; I do believe that she isn't saying to have sex, but is simply stating an opinion), here is her article on her blog: http://kodymekellkeplinger.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-sex-positive-means-at-least-to-me.htmlI did like Bianca's struggle for self-discovery. I thought that her take on the Scarlet Letter ("for distraction") was very interesting. I thought that her poor-little-me-I'm-so-mature act did get old in the beginning, but it was enlightening to watch her grow throughout the book. Her backstory with her family was engrossing, as well as Wesley's and the supporting characters. While the ending was slightly cheesy, it was the type of cheesy that is also lovable and sweet. This is recommended, just not for anybody who finds the topic obnoxious.Recommended for anybody who loves: What My Mother Doesn't Know, contemporary teen romance, Dreamland, Personal Demons, etc,.Possible book club questions:Why are so many teens determined that they are the worst of their groups ("Everybody thinks of themselves as a duff")?What is your take on the Scarlet Letter as opposed to Bianca's?Why do you think that Bianca was both attracted to complete opposites: Toby and Wesley?