The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Bianca Piper is seventeen years old, and a true and loyal friend.  When high school hottie, Wesley Rush points out to her that she is the DUFF among her friend, Bianca is confused.  Wesley goes on to say that DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend, and Bianca does what any girl would do in this situation; she throws her coke in his face.

But the name doesn’t fade away.  As the days go by, Bianca really starts to think of her as the DUFF in her group.  According to Wesley, every group has one, and Bianca knows she is certainly not the prettiest among her friends.  With her family life in shreds with a mom who has found other interests besides her home and a father just one step away from falling off his eighteen years of sobriety…. Bianca becomes eager for an escape – and in her sights is none other than Wesley.


DUFF?  This word was a new one to me and I cautiously entered into this read.  Kids are cruel enough to one another without adding more words to their vocabulary was my initial thought here.  DUFF is just a cruel label.   And true to many labels, the person bearing the label tends to think that is who they are… ripping away at their self-esteem – and that is what happens in this book to Bianca.

Bianca starts out having never heard of DUFF, but once it was pinned on her by Wesley – she felt in her heart it was true.  Certainly she was no match for her peppy, beautiful, and certainly thinner, friends.  Bianca’s actions start to change as she pulls away from her friends and finds her release through none other than Wesley himself.

As I mentioned, the book concerned me and Bianca’s actions reflected that concern.  Labels hurt.  But then – author Kody Keplinger surprises me by bringing this label full circle and in the end you come to realize we are all in a way the DUFF, and we all have our insecurities.

I wanted to love this book, and in many ways I did.  I enjoyed the characters and the writing and actually flew through the book in one sitting.  Afterward, I thought about what age the book was written for, and while I read it as a light quick read, if I had a daughter who was 12 – 15, I am not sure I would want her reading it.

The Wesley and Bianca relationship is very sexually charged.  Very.  For a YA read I have to share that there is a lot of casual sex going on in this book between these two characters .  There is also quite a bit of strong language in the book.

While I enjoyed the writing, I did struggle with where Bianca  found her self-worth.  I know there are topics in the book that explain this, but due to how much I struggled with this – it took me three months to post this review.It is a book that I think an older YA would enjoy the writing, but I do have concerns of younger YA’s reading this book.

If you can get beyond the parts that concerned me, the overall message is a good one and I closed the book liking the outcome.  There are many reviews of this book so please read other opinions.

I met Kody Kempler in New York in May at BEA and enjoyed talking with her and listening to her talk about this book.  Kody started writing the DUFF when she was 17 and is now 19 years old.


Book Journey has updated the 2010 reading map to include The DUFF

Cover story:  It’ s an ok cover and I feel it attracts the audience it was written for.

I received my review copy in New York at BEA


22 thoughts on “The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

  1. But it isn’t for 12-15 year olds…that isn’t what YA really is. YA is supposed to be older teen through twenties and for that age group, it is great.

      1. Update to that: I just found that this book is recommended for 15 and up. I still think 15 is young for this read, but happy it is not recommended younger than that,

  2. This book sounds dangerously interesting. In light of all the horrible suicides caused by bullying that have happened of late, it might be a good one to read. But, I’m cautious as you are with a lot of some of the casualness that you’ve mentioned. I’d still like to read it, so I’ll certainly keep you in the loop on what I thought!

  3. I am not sure that I will like this book but your review makes me want to give it a chance. I wonder if teens would like it more because they can relate to her and find the situations to be realistic?

    Great review as always. Sometimes it helps to wait to write a review so you can really think about it. Whenever I wait very long I have a tendency to forget so I’ve got lots of partials that I’ll never finish writing!

    1. For myself I enjoyed the read. I actually wrote my review right away, but did not post it. I had to think about it and actually talked to a few other book reviewers about the book and their thoughts before I posted.

  4. That’s interesting it took you three months to post the review. You must have really struggled with this one and based on your review, I can certainly see why. Perhaps the book shouldn’t have been marketed as YA.

    1. Its hard to explain Jill, still… even after all this time. It is a YA book, its just some situations that I wouldst even want to see an adult go through.

      I love YA books and Kody Keplinger has a real talent for writing.

  5. Yes I definitely think the story is for older teens. I had such love for the book though, it all felt very real and believable to me. Sorry you struggled with it!

    1. Agreed Hannah. I passed on it when I first seen it and then listened to and talked with Kody at BEA. When I seen it at the event the day after I had seen it the first time, I picked it up to give it a try.

  6. I think books like this are okay for that age group as long as they have someone to discuss the issues with. Growing up is really hard these days – especially for girls.

    1. Kathy that is a good thought, one I had been thinking about too. As long as the young YA has someone in their life that they can talk too about this, it could be a good tool to use to open doors of conversation.

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