Olivia O’Neil ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
To all the girls who have ever thought that they weren’t good enough for a guy, or that no guy could ever want them, please read The Duff. This book is just what an insecure person who thinks they will be alone forever needs to read. It is more than just a well-written fantasy that got published. This book is important.
The Duff is about an insecure girl, Bianca, in her senior year, whose world is falling apart. She distracts herself and runs way from her problems by sleeping with the hottest guy in school. It is one of those fabulous stories where two people hate each other, have a ton of sex, and fall in love. Along the way, Bianca realizes the only thing she needs to be amazing is to accept the fact that she is amazing. It is a book every teenage girl should read.
The fact that this book was written by a seventeen-year-old girl probably has something to do with its completely accurate portrayal of a teenage girl. This book is practically a primary source on the modern day teenage experience. There is no singular “popular mean girl.” There is actually only one person in the entire book who insults Bianca, and the insult is really a guy’s failed attempt at flirting. The only person who thinks badly of Bianca is herself. When Wesley Rush, the hottest guy in school, calls her a “DUFF,” it hit a sour spot with her—as it would with any girl her age.
By the end of the book, it’s pretty clear that the word “DUFF” (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) doesn’t actually mean that the person is ugly or fat. When Bianca’s friends learn the word, they are both convinced that they are actually the DUFF. Instead of letting the term define them, the take it back and make a joke out of it.
“DUFF” isn’t the only label they tackle in this book. Through out the story, while Bianca is secretly sleeping with Wesley, she feels dirty and wrong, like a “whore.” When she realizes the absurdity of the label “DUFF,” she also realizes that it applies to all labels including “whore,” and “slut.” She comes to the conclusion that it is better to not judge people and to just let them live their lives. What an awesome lesson for a YA book to have. In a sea of books about girls letting men define them and girls who are constantly portrayed in a very flat and static manner, this one rises to the top and says, “Forget that! The only person who can define you is you!”
The Duff is awesome because it addresses slut-shaming labels and the complexities of people, and it is quite different than any other YA novel in how it deals with sex. But as amazing as this book is, the movie only captures a fraction of it. This is not surprising. The author herself said that if this book was directly translated to screen, it would be rated R. The movie still delivers, quite clearly, the message that we are all DUFFs. It was funny and entertaining, but not a tenth as powerful as the book.