Teenage angst with a sharp wit

The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
Kody Keplinger

This book starts off at a cracking pace and does not let up.  We meet Bianca Piper at the Nest, the local teenage hotspot and she is over it. While her friends Casey and Jessica dance the night away, Bianca drinks cherry coke and chats to the barman. She is cynical, smart, and loyal and has a razor wit. Crashing into her world is Wesley Rush the school stud, the one they all swoon over and he certainly knows it.  Wesley tells Bianca where she stands in the pecking order of dating that she is the tool, the designated ugly fat friend who is a gate way to the beautiful friends. As the story progresses we learn that Wesley is not her only problem as her home life is unravelling and she is struggling to find ways to cope.
There is a great deal to like about this book, Bianca’s voice is strong, consistent and engaging. Like any teenage girl she makes her mistakes and struggles to figure it all out. Yet she keeps trying and keeps looking for a way forward.  All the characters lift off the page and have their own foibles and you find yourself caring for them all regardless of whether they are getting it right or wrong.

Keplinger has created a realistic world that teenagers live in. For those who may be worried about the sexual element, to steal from Neneh Cherry’s Trout ‘You think they don't do it? Don't get fooled’.