The Duff written by Kody Keplinger, is not your typical cliche romantic novel, but a coming of age story that is relatable to teenagers at this age.17 year old Bianca Piper is loyal, honest, and cynical but never saw herself as beautiful compared to her two other gorgeous best friends. At parties and clubs, Bianca would most likely only talk to the bartender, watch the clock every few seconds, and once she can't stand it anymore, she will drag her friends Jess and Casey out of the environment. However one night at the club, Wesley Rush, a handsome young man who sleeps with anything he can get his hands on, calls her the term that she's never heard anyone say before: the DUFF. The DUFF which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend, was directed towards Bianca compared to her two stunning best friends, for being the “approachable one.” Also known as the person you use to become closer with his or her friends that are more attractive. Furious, Bianca storms out of the party with Jess and Casey, promising that she would never talk to Wesley again.
However when her very small family starts crippling, things only get worse for Bianca. With Bianca's mom barely home anymore and her dad starting his drinking addiction again, she was in desperate need of distraction to escape her family life. Out of pure instinct, she starts calling Wesley to help distract her with his one night stands, and she starts seeing him more and more frequently. By doing so, she realizes that Wesley is actually a very good listener and he starts telling Bianca about his own family problems causing them to develop a mutual bond and respect with one another. However by doing so, her relationship with her friends starts to dwindle more and more as she lies to see Wesley, and life doesn't get much better as she starts running away from her own family problems. Also on top of that, Bianca's long term crush starts developing a liking for Bianca causing Bianca to make a very important decision: to either replenish her relationship with her friends and move on to a different guy while letting go of Wesley completely, or choosing Wesley and losing everyone.
As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t your typical cliche novel. What makes this book so special is how Keplinger incorporates the theme of friendship throughout the story. Although they can’t always be seen, a true friend will be willing to help you in any situation and tell you exactly how they feel no matter how positive or negative. No matter how much you try to block them out of your life, they will always be right around the corner to step in and help. This can be seen multiple times throughout the story where Bianca was too stubborn to admit who were truly her friends and who weren't. Another one of my favorite themes in this book is how Keplinger describes facing challenging obstacles. One of the quotes that spoke the most to me was “No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually” (Keplinger, 197). To me, this quote truly showed that during challenging times, the worst possible thing to do is to distract yourself because life will always catch up to you and when it does nothing good will come from running away. If you face the challenge or obstacle that comes rolling down your life, you are more likely to conquer the obstacle with less consequences than if you were to face the obstacle by the force of nature. By adding in the themes of facing challenges and friendship, it makes Bianca a more realistic and relatable character that makes mistakes and just tries her best to go along the path of life.
While I was reading this story, I immediately became drawn to the characters, the plot, and also the beautiful themes and memos the author provides in the story. Contrary to popular belief, the book is nothing like the movie and is in fact just that much better. Every word the characters say can be somewhat relatable to anyone reading this novel. Reading between the lines of each quote or thought that goes through Bianca's mind can bring out a whole new perspective on how we should think in life which is something that the movie does not provide. I strongly recommend this novel to any teenager that is interested in fast moving romance novels and anyone who is looking for a good read. This novel will definitely have you sucked into the plot and have you think about your friendships and relationships twice.
Also, feel free to leave any comments or questions about the book below!