Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Posted by Caitie F on October 22, 2010

Title: The Duff
Author: Kody Keplinger
Hardback: 288 pages
Publisher: Poppy (Little, Brown)
ISBN:  9780316084239
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads):

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 “Duffy,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that 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.

Note: This is labeled as YA, but I think it is best for girls who are comfortable enough with issues of sex and are smart enough to know that this book isn’t saying everyone should go and have sex. It has important issues that I think teenagers need to think about, but if someone cannot handle it, they should not read it. If you hate swearing in books, it is also not for you. It is not just there to be there, it is only used when it fits.


This book is about more than just being the “Designated, Ugly, Fat Friend”. It is about friendship, love, female empowerment, family, and not letting others dictate what or who you are.  This is not really going to be a traditional review, so I will let you know that it is a great great book and you should go read it. That said, I want to talk about a couple of issues with females in the book.

Duff is used throughout the book – first as an insult, then as a nickname, and then as a term for bonding. I think seeing it transform says a lot about words and insults in general. Wesley first uses it to downgrade who she is by saying he is just using her to sleep with her friends. I was really happy when she dumped the Cherry Coke on him after that. Then, they start sleeping together and he uses it as a nickname, and every time it gets to her. It really demonstrates how people don’t get that what they say bothers people. He really doesn’t know and when she finally yells at him for it he apologizes and makes sure he does not use it again. If someone is hurt by something, they need to speak up. I kept wanted her to stand up for herself earlier, but that would not have fit her character. Finally, her friends start using it to take away the sting of the word. I liked that a lot. It shows that none of them are comfortable with themselves and brings them closer together and reminds them that it is okay to not fit their “ideal”.

The other terms that get thrown around are “whore” and “slut”. They are thrown around by Bianca and her friends, other kids at her school, and her father. Wesley says it best when he says that it is something used by people just to try to make women feel bad about themselves. Bianca needs a way to escape, to forget about all the bad stuff going on in her life and makes the choice to have sex as that escape. She is careful about it, so why is that so wrong? She isn’t doing it to gain confidence or because men pressure her, it is HER choice of what she wants to do with HER body. There isn’t anything wrong with that. No one should judge her for it and women need to stop judging each other and attacking each other with degrading terms.

Like I said above, it isn’t for all teenagers, I know not everyone could handle it. I also know there would be parents who would have an issue with their daughter reading about something with swearing and sex, but I think the ideas in the book are great and are things that all young adults can relate to even in college and beyond.



11 Responses to “The Duff by Kody Keplinger”

  1. Sounds like a book that would give you a lot to think about. Our niece and her friends throw those derogatory terms around when they talk to each other and I can’t figure it out. I keep telling them that you’re supposed to be nice and uplifting to your friends.

    • Caitie F said

      I never understood those terms to friends…do they not get that those are insults used to make women feel bad about themselves?

  2. Amused said

    I think that this cover would appeal to a lot of teenagers and while it does sound like it deals with some mature content I think it sounds like a great read for some of the older ones. I’ll have to pick up a copy for Christmas for a cousin!

  3. This does sound like an interesting read. I agree, it sounds like it would give you a lot to think about. This is the first i’ve heard of this one.

    • Caitie F said

      That is funny – I forget how HUGE the book blogging community was. I felt like I was the last one to read this, even though it has only been out for a short time.

  4. amymckie said

    Great review of a book I absolutely loved, for, it seems, the same reasons you did. I especially loved how it shows how insults and words affect us too. We can take these words and make them our own so that they aren’t insults, and we will get there!

  5. Alyce said

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, so I’ll probably read it eventually. I just finished Before I Fall and it deals with some similar issues, and boy did it make me cry.

  6. […] Posts I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak & Giveaway!PrizesThe Duff by Kody Keplinger About Me2010 TBR (To Be Read) Challenge « ghostgirl winner! Breaks, Books, Query […]

  7. […] Stiefvater 53. Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink 54. Losing Faith by Denise Jaden 55. The Duff by Kody Keplinger 56. low red moon by Ivy Devlin 57. The Unidentified by Rae Mariz 58. Dark Song […]

  8. […] nI headed over to get in line for Kody Keplinger’s new book Shut Out. I LOVED The DUFF. I even said it was the best book I read in 2010. So you can imagine […]

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