Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book of the Week: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

At some point after starting Kody Keplinger's The DUFF, I paused my reading to find out who in the world had written this book. Why? Because it felt as though I were eavesdropping on a some of my students talking about their weekend plans. Is this bad? No. The dialogue and narration were so realistic, so convincing that I knew that someone of great talent had written this novel. And, it turns out that this person is Kody Keplinger and that she is 18 years old.

Which makes sense, right? Who else but an 18 year old know how teens sound and think and feel? Still, though, it takes a serious talent (at any age) to know what people of a certain age are like and then translate that into believable characters and an interesting plot. That's just what this book has in spades.

The main character of The DUFF, Bianca, is instantly believable and likable. She is a little awkward physically, but shard as a knife in terms of wit and intelligence. The book opens with a crabby and bored Bianca watching her gorgeous best friends gyrate in a club, wishing that she could just make a getaway. But, her super hot best friends love to party and flirt, so Bianca stays.

Enter smokin' hot player-boy Wesley Rush. His first act on the scene is to tell Bianca, who's not really a close friend, but who is in the same social circle, that she is a DUFF. A Designated Ugly Fat Friend. How does Bianca react? She throws her glass of Cherry Coke right in his face. And she finally gets to leave the club.

But Wesley's comment stays with her. No matter how she tries to forget what Wesley thinks of her, she cannot. Why? Because she thinks he's right.

And circumstances in Bianca's life are not perfect. Her mother is absent, her father is unable to face the fact that his marriage is crumbling, and Bianca doesn't feel as though she has a chance with her crush or any other boy. She was heart-broken as a freshman and that rejection still stings years later.  Bianca's a bit of a mess, but she's real and entertaining and I love her.

I could not put this book down and laughed out loud several times. The ending is a tad rushed, but this is easily forgiven. The quality of the writing and the intensity of this book are superb. I can't wait to read whatever else Ms. Keplinger writes. At 18, she has a long future as an amazing author ahead of her!

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