Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on September 7, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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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 didn’t quite know what to expect when I started reading this book. What I didn’t expect was to fly through it obsessively and finish it in one day. Now it wasn’t perfect, obviously, since I only gave it four stars, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about reading it again as I write this review.
Bianca is best friends with two gorgeous girls, Casey and Jess, and when the hot as sin popular guy Wesley Rush tries to get to them through her, he enlightens her that she is their DUFF, the designated ugly fat friend. Bianca has never really cared what anyone thinks of her but this revelation can’t seem to get out of her mind. And now that her mom is always half way across the country for her “motivational speech” tours, her dad isn’t doing so well, and the stress starts piling up. In a fit of insanity, Bianca sleeps with Wesley, whom she has sworn to hate forever and ever. Their secret fling becomes a regular occurrence, only, their rendezvous start feeling a little more friendly as they get to know each other. But every time Wesley calls her “Duffy”, it hurts like hell, though she doesn’t tell him that. When Bianca’s mom sends divorce papers to her dad, he falls of the wagon and starts drinking again, going so far as to physically threaten Bianca, but fortunately, Wesley is there to save her. Suddenly their fling is something much more, and the two find themselves baring their souls and their closest kept secrets. But Bianca knows that someone like Wesley would never be with a DUFF in real life, so she decides to put distance between the two of them to protect her own heart. Besides, she’s madly in love with Toby Tucker, who is perfect for her. Isn’t he?
I mean, I’d never considered myself particularly attractive, and it wasn’t hard to see that Casey and Jessica, both thin and blond, were gorgeous, but still. The fact that I played the role of the ugly girl to their luscious duo hadn’t occurred to me. Thanks to Wesley Rush, I could see it now.
This was a really interesting book; the movie (which I watched directly after reading the book on the same day) makes everything funny and light, when in reality, the book deals with some really serious issues. While the dialogue in the book can be quite hilarious, especially Bianca’s lines, the subject matter is heavy. It felt like the conflicts were realistic, with kids struggling with their parents divorces, dealing with their own insecurities, and maybe not making the best decisions on how to deal with everything they have to deal with.
I’m not gonna lie. I LOVED Wesley and Bianca’s relationship. Like, so so much. Even before they really developed positive feelings towards each other. I loved their dialogue, their slow building friendship turned romance, In the beginning, they were so snarky, and it was very entertaining.
“Spanish, huh?” he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. “Can you say anything interesting?”
“El tono de tu voz hace que quiera estrangulame.” I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
“That sounds sexy,” he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he’d swept together. “What’s it mean?”
“The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself.”
They had plenty of scenes together, since they were sleeping together for most of the book, and I loved how as we got farther in, their scenes slowly went from “angry makeout leading to sex” to “hey we’re playing a fun, friendly video game and talking about life and maybe we’ll sleep together today”. Now sure, I don’t think that Bianca made a good decision in choosing to sleep with Wesley as a way to escape her problems, but I liked how their actual relationship developed subtly. Wesley starts asking if she’s ok all the time, which doesn’t really make sense to Bianca, and of course the reader knows he’s got feelings for her.
Wesley Rush doesn’t chase girls, but I’m chasing you.
I really liked that Bianca’s friends stick with her, even when she keeps blowing them off to go sleep with Wesley (which, of course she can’t tell them about). But they care about her, and while there’s a small window where they are very angry with her, I’m glad they were loyal. I thought for sure that they were just going to dump her because they weren’t good friends, but I was so glad I was wrong.
The drama with Bianca’s parents and Wesley’s parents was an interesting added layer, only making their teenage issues worse. It wasn’t unrealistic that they should turn to each other – heck, Bianca throws herself at Wesley, pretty much saying “I’ll sleep with you with no strings attached”, and he has a reputation for sleeping with any girl that’s breathing, so of course he accepts. You find out they both have serious issues, they just handle them differently. I loved that they both changed so much by the end of the book.
That’s another thing though, I really liked that this book wasn’t about changing Bianca (which is where the movie went SO wrong). It wasn’t even really about not caring about what others think of you. It was about YOU not judging other people, and understanding that everyone has insecurities.
Content wise, Wesley and Bianca do sleep together, but this is a YA book, so it’s not detailed graphically. There is a lot of language however. A lot.
I highly recommend this for anyone who likes YA Contemporary. I’m putting this on my to-re-read list.