The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend


I’m not sure how I missed the Kody Keplinger train, but man I’m glad I finally caught up to it!  I didn’t even know about Kody Keplinger.  Then one day, I happened to catch a trailer for the movie version (link to trailer below) of the book and thought maybe it might be cute.  I’m probably a little old for this type of movie (or book for that matter) but my daughter seemed interested, and being the ever conscious mother that I am, I had to be the one to read it first.  I am so glad I did.  I loved this book so much!.

Keplinger may have been young when she wrote this (17 I believe), but her writing was way beyond her years.  She described how many of us probably felt at one time in our lives.  Her writing was honest and open and sometimes raw.  It all worked for me.

The book introduces us to Bianca, the not blond, not tall and not bubbly protagonist.  She is snarky, sassy and sometimes a down right bitch.  She has issues that one.  Her friends are tall, pretty, and popular with the boys.  Bianca is approached by Wesley, the man-whore, one night at the local under 21 club and she doesn’t understand why he is even talking to her.  He tells her that her friends are hot and that because she is the Duff (designated ugly fat friend) and by being nice to her that her friends will find him more appealing.  You know…aww, how sweet he is for making her feel important.  This starts the ball rolling for the rest of the book.

Shame on me for judging a book by its cover, or in this case its movie version trailer!  The book went in a direction I never saw coming.  Bianca has issues.  Issues of all kinds.  Her friends are prettier, her parents are a mess and when she was 14 she slept with her best friend’s brother and her best friend has no idea.  Not to mention she is in deep like with a boy who already has a girlfriend.  She’s a bit stressed.  Enter Wesley and his declaration of Duff.  In a moment of insanity (or genius possibly) she takes her frustration and stress out on Wesley’s lips, thus starting a month long series of meaningless hook ups with the schools most notorious player.  I won’t go too much more into the story itself so I don’t ruin it for anyone.

Part of the reason I love this book so much is the complexity of both Bianca and Wesley.  Both are damaged souls.  You can’t help but love and feel a little sorry for Wesley and sometimes you want to smack Bianca out of her funk.  But both are well written.  The supporting characters lack depth, which bothered me a first, but then I realized that they aren’t really important to the story except to cause interference.  Bianca’s parents, however, play a pretty big role in the grand scheme of things and while most young adult authors like to do without the whole parental thing, this story would not work without them.

A friend of mine felt the topic of the book was offensive.  This is where the lesson of never judging a book by its cover comes in handy.  While the words on the cover may be offensive (fat-shaming sucks people!), the story is so much more complex than that.  Grab a copy of the book, you will thank me!

Note;  I would not recommend this book for tweens and preteens.  As a mother of a tween, I know how kids like to jump on the train of what’s cool at the time and with the movie coming out this will probably be on the cool train.  But the themes are sort of mature and sex or the topic of sex are mentioned in almost every chapter of the book.