Beauty really does lie in the eye of the beholder...
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is smart, cynical, loyal - and well aware that she's not the hot one in her group of friends. But when high-school jock and all-round moron Wesley Rush tells her she's a DUFF - a Designated, Ugly, Fat, Friend - Bianca does not see the funny side. She may not be a beauty, but she'd never stoop so low as to go anywhere near the likes of Wesley... Or would she? Bianca is about to find out that attraction defies looks and that sometimes your sworn enemies can become your best friends... With a wry and tell-it-like-it-is voice, The DUFF is a witty and poignant story of a teenager struggling with the rules of high school attraction, along with the breaking down of her relationships with family and friends. It is a novel about what it means to be sexy, in a world where we feel we have to be perfect!
I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I'll be honest, I only picked this up because I saw the movie trailer and thought it looked funny. I know, not very bookwormy (shhh, this is totally a word!) of me... I still haven't seen the movie, but I have been very pleasantly surprised by this book! There was a lot more to this story than I initially thought, and I was amazed at how deeply some passages resonated with me even though I am (only slightly) older than the intended audience.
At the beginning, I didn't really like Bianca, the main character. I found her annoying and slightly arrogant, so fairly close to what teenagers are actually like. But I loved seeing her change and grow throughout the book! She started out thinking she was more mature than her friends and schoolmates, but ended up realising she was just like them, though in her own way. In other words, she ended up really maturing. Bianca felt very real to me, as she struggled with plenty of issues with her family and her friends and also with having to learn to accept herself for who she is, and not only for how others may see her. For me, this is a very powerful message to convey, particularly to all those teenage girls who may struggle with the same issues: love yourself for who you are and don't bother with what others may think of you. Those who truly love you will always stand by your side, no matter how pretty, or thin, or popular you are.
Overall, this was a very pleasant read. The writing flowed nicely, and the story kept going at a very good pace, with very few slow passages. The development of the main character was definitely the best thing about this book, even though some of the other characters suffered a bit from underdevelopment. I really liked how the author weaved in some discussion on serious issues affecting teenage girls everywhere, such as self-confidence and self-acceptance, teenage love, perception of your own body image, and the so-called "slut-shaming". They were all dealt with incredibly well, even for someone (like me) who has happily left her high-school days behind. Definitely recommended if you're looking for a teenage novel slightly different from the rest.