Book Review: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

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.

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Title: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Author: Kody Keplinger

Published: September, 2007 by Little Brown/Poppy

Time it took me to read: 26/01 – 27/01

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bianca is a regular, 16 year old girl with gorgeous friends who like to dance and flirt with boys while she downs Cherry Coke at the bar while hanging out with the middle-aged bartender named Joe. This is all fine and dandy until one night the most popular and beautiful boy in the school comes up to her to talk. Wesley is known as a womanizer, he sleeps with everything that moves. But he doesn’t approach Bianca for that reason, he talks to her because she is the DUFF – the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. He informs her of this and tells her that the only reason he is even over there is because she has hot friends and hot friends like it when they talk to their DUFF friend. But Bianca is not the type of girl who takes shit like this and flings the remains of her Cherry Coke right in his smug face. Well done, Bianca.

But then things start to get hard in Bianca’s life. Her mother files for divorce, which makes her alcoholic father relapse even though he hasn’t had a drink since before Bianca was born. And even the guy who broke her heart at 14 comes back to town with his fiancée. Bianca desperately needs a distraction and so she flings herself at the person she hates the most; Wesley. It’s a friends with benefits thing and Wesley is not the type of person that would reject a girl. It’s a win-win situation, right?

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This book caught my eye the very first time I sat foot in the library, even before I had a library card and when I was just there to have a look around. It was under the ‘Friends and Other Enemies’ section sandwiched between Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. I don’t know what it was exactly, but it spoke to me. It was calling me from the bookshelf. But of course I couldn’t check it out yet so I had to wait. But I never forgot.

When I did check it out, I was afraid that it was going to be a very cynical and badly written book about the ‘ugly friend’ that somehow by some miracle attracts the fancy of the popular guy despite being the DUFF. Turns out that it was the complete opposite, thank goodness. Bianca is actually very smart, loyal and strong. She is unfamiliar to the concept of the DUFF until Wesley tells her about it and doesn’t necessarily sees herself that way.

The relationship with Wesley is her idea and she is not ashamed of what she’s doing. She needs an escape and he can help her with that. She takes control of the situation. She is not a victim or necessarily innocent.

It is well written and I absolutely love the ending and the way both Bianca and Wesley grow throughout the story. I love that it’s not a straightforward love story and that her friends play a big role in her life. It hits all the marks for me. I read this book in one day and I would read it again and again.

Besides the story, it’s also well written and funny and sarcastic and lovely. It’s not world class literature but I don’t care about that. I found it very enjoyable. I rate it a 4 out of 5. I recommend it to you if you’re not squeamish about somewhat graphic sex-scenes and casual intimate relationships. Also physical and alcohol abuse. This book is about empowerment though, and finding yourself in a time of struggle.

Have any of you read it? I had never heard of it before I saw it in the library so I wonder if it’s somewhat well known/popular?

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Ethics! – Au Pair Adventures

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Oh what’s that? Yeah I figured I might as well use the banner that I created for this series. *smacks forehead* working 45 hours a week is bad for my mental capacities.

Which is funny because today’s post is about the class that I will be taking to fulfill my educational requirement. I talked about this is my last post. In there I said that I was having doubts about what I should do; a weekend class in another city or a proper course at the local college. At the time I was leaning towards the weekend course because I could only do entry-level courses at the college and I needed to do a placement test.

But then I looked into the weekend classes and saw that the costs are unbelievably high. You obviously need to pay for a flight there, which isn’t cheap. But then there’s this: the classes start Saturday at 7am and end Sunday at 5 pm. Which means that you need to arrive on Friday and leave on Monday and have to pay for the hotel those 2 nights yourself. And that was just a bit over budget. Unfortunately. I’m still hoping I get to visit the cities that I was interested in on my own. I was mainly looking at San Fransisco and New Orleans. Gotta be options like hostels and stuff like that, right? Eugh, I have problems with spending my savings. It’s like sacred. Do you guys have this problem?

Anyway, so I decided to do a course at the college. Which meant I had to do a placement test in reading, writing and math. I wasn’t worried about reading and writing at all, but math.. well.. *gulp*. So for the last week I’ve been sporadically practicing with the practice tests they put on the website and when that went okay, I thought I’d be ready. That’s why I was pretty self-assured when I went in today to finally do the test.

Surprise, surprise, the actual test was NOTHING like the practice test. No fractions and percentages and all the other stuff that I had practiced. No, it was solely advanced Algebra. Which I’ve never had in my life. We learn basic Algebra briefly in high school but that’s it. Man.. let’s just say it didn’t go very well. I don’t know exactly what I scored (they don’t give exact scores for the math test) but I am pretty sure that it wouldn’t be a pass. I did score well on Writing (99%) and Reading (92%). I’m fairly proud of that.

After that, I went to actually register and do the last bit of red tape. And now it’s all sorted out. I just need to pay the tuition, which falls well in the $500 educational budget that my hostfamily needs to pay, within the next few days. I’m actually really chuffed about the tuition. It’s not low or anything, it’s actually pretty high, but at least I don’t have to pay extra myself (anything over that $500, I would be paying). Now, it is true that I should do another 3 credit course later in the year but I may decide not to do that.

There wouldn’t be any real consequences for me if I don’t do the full 6 credits. The only catch is that I wouldn’t be able to extend or return as Au Pair, but that has never been my plan anyway. But still.. don’t tell the agency okay? You never know 😉

Oh right, I need to tell you what I selected!

I chose to do an Ethics course. It’s something that I have had a class in during my Bachelors degree but I figured that it would be interesting. Ethics isn’t a subject that goes bland if you know what I mean. There will always be discussions about what’s ethical and what’s not. I guess it’s not the same thing with studying something like psychology. I mean after you’ve heard about Skinner and Pavlov and Freud a couple dozen times, you wouldn’t feel the need to sit through another Psych 101 class. Lets just hope this will be as interesting as I hope it to be!

I officially start on Tuesday and will have classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00 to 12:15. Which seems incredibly short to me. I’m used to classes being way longer than that. Oh well, cultural differences! Classes will run until May 5th I think. I wonder if I will have an assignment or a test at the end of the course. I guess we will see!

Well, that’s it for today. I’ll keep you updated as things progress.

Oh wait! Yesterday, I finally got my library card sorted and I immediately checked out 4 books that I will never be able to read before the return date but oh well. I love the library here!

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I was planning on getting Coraline, but I couldn’t find it. So I got Neverwhere instead, it looked so good! A Discovery of Witches was on my list. The Chaos of Stars I picked up on a whim. It’s about Egyptian gods for a change and I thought it looked interesting. I hope it won’t be too Twilight-y. DUFF (Dumb, Ugly, Fat Friend) was a book that caught my eye the very first time I went to the library. I’m curious to see how it’ll turn out.

Ah man.. I love books. Books books books.

 

Orientation day 3 and Chicago!! – Au Pair Adventures

So I’ve been in Chicago for 2,5 days now and I absolutely love it so far! But I’ll tell you about that in a second.

On Thursday we had our third and final day of orientation. Or really the last half day because everybody was leaving for their final destinations a little after lunch. We got up early and had a talk about travel and legal stuff, really all the practical stuff that you need to know for the first few weeks. Like how to get your social security number and all the travel information. Then after that we talked about communication with the Hostfamily and the children you’ll be working with. It was all pretty straight forward. Be respectful, be honest, and talk talk talk. Don’t lose the kids, don’t hurt the kids etc. They told us about some laws that might impact us. Basically, it was a lot of talking.

IMG_20131212_152156Then, at around 2 PM, I left the cozy hotel to go to La Guardia airport for my final flight to O’Hare international airport. Everything went very smoothly, thank God. I checked in, checked my bags (which weren’t too heavy!) and went to the gate. There was another girl from orientation with me. She was also going to Chicago, but had to take a later flight. So we waited at the gate together and had a good time. We were both really nervous though.

The flight to Chicago was good. No TV screens this time though, so I had to entertain myself with my books and music. But that was okay. The flight was 2,5 hours or so but it went by quicker than I thought. But in no time I arrived at O’Hare and I have to tell you, it was a much much better welcome than I got in Newark. We flew pretty low over the city so I could see all the Christmas decorations on the houses and they had the prettiest differently colored lit trees that made it a beautiful sight to see. Unfortunately I didn’t get close enough to them to take a pictures but you’re going to have to take my word for it.

Chicago from the sky!
Chicago from the sky!

And then.. Chicago!! By the way let me tell you, O’Hare is one of the prettier airports that I’ve been to. I got picked up by my hostdad, A and he drove us to the house. Which is absolutely huge and beautiful. As is the neighborhood by the way. It’s very American with huge houses and cute Christmas decorations. At the house I was greeted by K, the hostmom and the current Au Pair, Daniella and the baby, L. They are all so nice! It’s really good so far, I feel right at home and I can definitely see myself living here for a year.

On Friday I went along to take the kids to school, then I had coffee with K and went shopping for some food and shampoo. After that we went home and took care of the baby until A came to pick me up to practice driving and to pick the kids up from school. I drove all through Oak Park and the neighboring areas without trouble and I’m so proud of myself; driving in another country! It’s snowing very heavily right now so I don’t know how much I’ll be driving in these first few days but I will definitely be driving more when things settle down.

So today I got up early and went along with K to bring the oldest girl, M, to ballet lessons and then I went to the Oak Park Library which is HUGE and brilliant and basically heaven. I have a feeling I’ll be hanging out a lot around there. After that I went back home with the family and hung out a bit. Saturday afternoons are typically no work days so I’m currently in my room, watching a new episode of Vampire Diaries on the huge flatscreen HD TV. Can you say paradise?

The Library

So all in all, it’s really good now. I’ve got a little over a week until work really starts for me because the current Au Pair is still here. So from Monday on, I’ll be working alongside with her, getting a feel of the routine and stuff. This also means that I’m currently sleeping on the pull out couch. But that’s okay for now. I’m really very comfortable. But then after she leaves on the 20th I’ll be able to move into the main bedroom and get all my stuff settled in.

Can’t wait for it to all get started to be honest! To go to the city and to figure out where to shop and to get the routine down. I’m really looking forward to it all! But first, tomorrow is the first Cluster meeting so I’ll meet all the other Au Pairs who are close by. So that’ll be good!

I’ll keep you updated 😀