2015 Favorites Extravaganza: Day #9
Hamilton High #1
First Published: 2012
Beauty really does lie in the eye of the beholder...I am so glad I gave this book a shot! It's been on my "maybe" list ever since I heard of it, my hesitation steaming from a rumored jerk of a love interest and the whole enemies with benefits plot-line. But, the movie with Robbie Amell came out and it just looked so entertaining that I had to give the book a chance.
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 the see 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!
And honestly, it's just been so much fun!
Let's start by saying that the book explores a lot of deep themes. First of all, it explores slut shaming. It explores the idea of beauty. It explores facades. It explores friendships and family. And all the underlying messages are so positive it's heartening.
And it's pretty much all done through our main character, Bianca. A sassy, sarcastic, kind of judgmental girl whom I honestly loved. She's our DUFF - Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Or is she? She's definitely a fun character to explore, and while I didn't agree with all she did (especially toward the end with Toby...) I always loved her.
Her love interest and the coined douche above is Wesley. Now, I'm going to apologize in advance for the upcoming section - because I absolutely adored Wesley to pieces. I'm sorry, but anyone who finds this guy to be a jerk is wrong. He acted like a douche, sure. But he was not actually a douche.
In fact, out of all the characters in the book, he never once disrespected or shamed anyone. Especially not slut shaming. Even the making of the DUFF is something he doesn't do to be insulting, and later on really regrets.
He treats all the girls with him (Bianca especially) so well it was weird. He makes them feel beautiful and never once tries to make them feel dirty, unlike many of his counterparts in other books. And you can see this by how many times he asks Bianca "are you okay?". All jokes aside, it's always the first question on his mind. He always worries over her, even after the sex is over. He's careful to ask her if it helped and trying to figure out what makes her come to him in the first place so he could help.
And underneath all his "come get a piece of this" attitude, he's just a lonely person looking for human contact, too afraid to be abandoned to create any lasting relationships. His entire "jerkness" is just a persona. A facade. Is he still going to be a cocky, sure of himself bastard without it? Probably. But he's a very likable, considerate bastard lol
And together? I really liked them. I loved how she made Wesley think and break out of his pattern. I loved that he got her to think better of herself at the end, that he showed her she doesn't have to do it all on her own. And I wanted them together so bad it hurt!
Then there is the concept of friendships - I loved the friendships in this book. I loved seeing beautiful, popular girls who do not abuse and use anyone. Who don't act all cocky and superior and are the main antagonists of the story. Who valued friendship above all else and were always there for one another--even when one of them was shutting down on them and hurt them by doing so.
Then there is the concept of family. The book deals with alcoholism, with separation, with the effects it has on the children. This is the moving force behind all of Bianca's decisions, more or less, and it was so interesting. It kept me at the edge of my seat, wondering when the bad was going to hit full force.
And finally, I love the idea of the DUFF. Is it awful, that there is an "ugly fat friend"? sure. But in the title itself, Keplinger teases the real meaning of the DUFF. We are all the DUFF. It's a designated title, much like a designated driver. One evening it's going to be you, the next it's going to be your friend. One night you're going to look the best out of the group and another one you're... not. And it's okay, and it's real, and we all feel like the DUFF next to some of our friends and they do next to theirs. #TRUTH
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