Explanation of rating
At home with a mostly-absent mother and a formerly-alcoholic father, Bianca looks for an escape. Of course, Wesley shows up at just the right time and she finds herself kissing him. She's quick to realize her mistake, but as high school fate would have it, she is paired up with the obnoxious asshat for an English project. While attempting to work on their paper, the two get... distracted. Bianca makes it clear that she only wants to use Wesley, and Wesley makes it clear that he is perfectly content with just that. Wesley Rush doesn't chase girls, and he definitely is not chasing her.
As stress at home becomes more intense, Bianca finds herself spending more time hooking up with Wesley and less time even talking to her best friends - trying to avoid the ugly "truth" of her crumbling home-life and being the Duff, while being constantly reminded of it each time she is with the boy who first labeled her. When she starts to notice that Wesley isn't as soulless as she had believed, the time with him becomes less nauseating. And the situation only becomes more complicated when Bianca's long-time crush, Toby Tucker [one of my favorite lines: "Aside from the tragic alliteration, he was perfect in every single way."], takes notice of her too.
With several poignant scenes, Bianca also realizes that she needs to stop doing anything she can to escape reality and to simply face it. She used to think being the Duff was a good way to avoid boy-drama, but suddenly she is caught up in more than she ever imagined with the two least-likely guys in her high school; and her gorgeous best friends are making her realize that she isn't necessarily the only one who can complain about looks.
Opinion: After the first few pages, I hate to now admit that I was prepared to severely dislike this book... At first, the characters were pure stereotypes [my least favorite thing to read nearly 300 pages of] - you had the gorgeous best friends, the cliques of jocks, the sluts... And, of course, you have the snarky, concieted, Greek-god-like bad boy with a reputation.
But then there was a break in the clouds. The characters started to take unique shapes, to show the different aspects of themselves behind the common high school labels. From there, the story really took off and it rescued itself from being banned from my bookshelf [a rare but serious event in my room lol]. Once I realized that the major stereotypical writing in the beginning was only giving better cushion for the deeper understanding of each of the characters and a more forceful view of the main theme, I didn't want to put this book down. I read until the early hours of the morning just to finish it, flailing slightly in bed each time something adorably sweet and unexpected occured. I still smile at one damn line that I want to gush about with someone... but I can't until September [damn ARC! The line is on page 243 for anyone else who has read the ARC].
Being a new and still-young author, Keplinger writes a realistic description of what it is like to be in high school. She makes it a point to realize that everyone - girl, boy, all shapes and sizes - has felt like the Duff, and we shouldn't be ashamed of it.
Plain and simple, this book makes me smile :D
For School? (Hey, I'm a teacher, I think about this stuff!) Book banners will have a field day with this novel - meaning, basically, that it would be good in a classroom. There is a lot of mention of teenage sex and sexual activities - making it casual and not so much a burn-in-hell sin - but Keplinger doesn't force any judgement on the opinions of sex, it's simply just a part of the book (nothing graphic either, just allusions to).
The overall theme of accepting yourself and realizing that everyone isn't what they seem is perfect for a high school setting; through this, character developement is wonderfully shown. The writing is in the voice of a teenager, making it relatable; and there are mentions of current events (Obama as president, music taste, television shows) that might make this book seem out of date in a decade or two, but is great for right now. Even if it doesn't get the chance in a classroom, I absolutely recommend it to every person who has ever felt like the Duff.