Genre: YA, contemporary
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 “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out 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.
I really liked this book despite Bianca‘s (to me) rather sudden jump in the sack with Wesley, a guy Bianca supposedly hates. I get it – it’s a teenage thing, and sometimes even an adult thing – but it made me slightly uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just too much of a slow-burn kind of gal when it comes to my romance. I shipped them so hard by the end of the book, so it’s alright. They clearly are good for each other and it helps that Wesley is a good man despite his slew of hook-ups. He doesn’t disrespect the girls for sleeping with him or talk about them badly behind their backs. He’s a good guy beneath the pain, albeit with a rather unique humour. That’s why he’s good with Bianca. They just work together, grounding each other when they’re more or less a mess alone.
“Bianca, whore is just a cheap word people use to cut each other down,” he said. His voice softer. “It makes them feel better about their own mistakes. Using words like that is easier than really looking into the situation. I promise you, you’re not a whore.”
I looked at him, into his warm gray eyes, and suddently understood what he was trying to tell me. The message hidden beneath the words. You’re not alone.”
She’s abrasive on the outside at times but I get it. Her family life is in shambles, she’s got problems with her self-esteem. It’s the classic – boys like pretty girls but how can a smart girl be pretty or get a boy. This shit has got to stop – it’s not healthy either for girls or for boys for that matter. The bullshit the media sling at us makes it really hard to be yourself when you’re in that vulnerable stage during teenage years. It’s ok to be super smart, it’s ok to be pretty. It’s also ok for teens of either sex to experiment with the sexuality (responsibly, mind!).
I like this book for not propagating the usual bull about girls being sluts. Although it’s mentioned the author makes it clear she’s not buying it. I think America has some thinking to do regarding this attitude and this book is maybe one positive step forward. I’m not sure what the attitude of high schoolers in my country is but I sure hope we’re better.
I’m also extremely glad Bianca’s friendship with Casey and Jessica did not turn into any type of catfight (like in the movie adaptation of the book – seriously, who wrote that script?!). I’m also proud of Bianca when she talked to Vicki in the bathroom and gave that girl some much needed support. I like female characters that go beyond the cliché or stereotype. We have genuine friendships and catfights are rather the exception. I’m not saying they don’t happen but who has the time or energy to fight at school?
“I was the Duff. And that was a good thing. Because anyone who didn’t feel like the Duff must not have friends. Every girl feels unattractive sometimes. Why had it taken me so long to figure that out? Why had I been stressing over that dumb word for so long when it was so simple? I should be proud to be the Duff. Proud to have great friends who, in their minds, were my Duffs.”
This book has some deep and meaningful moments but the way it jumps around at times makes it slightly less enjoyable as a read. Still, I’d say most YA readers will like it and disregard any problems. I’d designate it as a fine, even funny novel about finding confidence in your own skin. I’m just not sure it will turn into a classic of YA literature.
One last thing:
I’m puzzled with this fascination with Wuthering Heights. I couldn’t finish that book because of its horrible characters, so why are so many depicting it as some height of romance? Honestly, explain this one to me, please.