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.
"Downing Cherry Cokes and watching her two best friends hoof it out on the dance floor of the local teen club doesn't make 17-year-old Bianca Piper feel good about herself. Especially when high-school man-slut Wesley Rush tells her she's the Duff, her friends' "designated ugly fat friend," and tries to cozy up to her in order to get into her friends' pants. Later on, somehow, someway, Bianca finds herself drawn to Wesley, and before she knows it, they've created a complex, enemies-with-benefits relationship that the YA market has never seen before. Their encounters are heatedly frank and full of humor, anger and rage, and soon the two learn they have more in common than they could ever have expected. Keplinger scores a first for a genre in which vampires and dystopian futures rule. Her snarky teen speak, true-to-life characterizations and rollicking sense of humor never cease in her debut. Teen readers will see both themselves and their friends in Bianca's layered, hostile world."
"When school "man-whore" Wesley informs Bianca that, compared to her group of beautiful friends, she is the DuffDesignated Ugly Fat Friend17-year-old Bianca is horrified, outraged, and can't stop thinking about the label ("I couldn't believe he was making me worry about such stupid, pointless, shallow bullshit"). Which makes it all the more upsetting when she starts hooking up regularly with Wesley (even though he continues to call her "Duffy"), as a distraction from her father's struggles with alcohol and the divorce her mother is seeking. Keplinger's premise will easily hook readers as she offers the kind of conventional romance (albeit one that is heavy on hookup sex) that summer teen flicks are made of in this well-written, irreverent, and heartfelt debut. Bianca's friends care about her deeply, so there is little drama between them; the arc of this story is more about Bianca coming to grips with her feelings for Wesley, who is actually a good guy, than about restoring her self-image. Bianca is consistently strong, witty, and confident, and while the nickname pinches, it does little to hurt her self-esteem."
"Kudos to the 18-year-old Keplinger for writing a heroine whose complicated relationship with sex is honest and heartbreaking. This for-more-mature teens novel deftly illustrates how even consensual sex can be emotionally destructive, and captures thoughts about self-image and the many different types of relationships. Expect to be recommending The Duff to friends for years to come."
Romantic Times Top Pick, 4 Stars
"Edgy and compelling. I couldn't put it down!"
Simone Elkeles, New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Attraction
"Sharp, hot, thoughtful, and searingly honest, The Duff is one of the best young adult novels to come along in ages."
Elizabeth Scott, author of Living Dead Girl and The Unwritten Rule