Thursday, January 05, 2012
The Duff (Kody Keplinger)
There were a lot of elements about The Duff that surprised me. Of course this is not the first YA book to mention sex, but the way Bianca and Wesley dive into their enemies-with-benefits arrangement shows a view of contemporary teenage relationships that is markedly different from the ones I've previously read about. I couldn't understand how Bianca would feel that engaging in an intimate relationship with someone she says she hates is going to make her feel better. Am I supposed to give her a pass because she's a teenager? I'm no angel but to be honest, reading about all the casual sex this book made me feel like the world's biggest prude. I have to give it Bianca though. She knows she's making a mistake but still she is all gung-ho about it, damn the consequences.
Still I could see Bianca struggle with her need to find an anchor in her life, even if that anchor was sex. Some people would turn to friends, others to alcohol or school activities. Yet Bianca chose this complicated relationship with Wesley to escape her problems with her alcoholic father. The story really has more to do with that and little to do with her struggles about being labeled fat or ugly, so if you're looking for those triumphant Cinderella rom-coms, look elsewhere. You won't find it here. Thankfully, it takes her loyal and caring group of friends and their own insecurities to make Bianca see that every girl can feel down about herself once in a while and this doesn't mean the end of the world.
Bianca is sharp and cynical, and in parts, she is also rather selfish and facetious. Given everything, she does feel realistically drawn. But the subject matter and approach used in The Duff can be very polarizing and despite my high hopes for it, I realize it isn't completely for me. I'm just too old for this.