Last month, we saw an advance screening of The DUFF, based on Kody Keplinger’s YA novel of the same name, and we’re still not over how hilarious and fabulous it is. Since the movie doesn’t officially release until February 20th, we thought we’d help make the wait easier by giving away copies of the new movie tie-in edition of the novel! We also chatted with Kody about the book and its adaptation.
For those new to the book, what as the original spark of inspiration that led you to writing The DUFF?
When I was a senior in high school, I walked into the cafeteria one morning and a girl was sitting at my breakfast table. She was an acquaintance of mine, and she started talking about her weekend and said how she hated it when guys referred to her friends as “the Duff.” I didn’t know what that was, so I asked. When she told me it meant the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” I was both amused and horrified. I was sure I was the DUFF in my group. But when I talked to my friends about it, they all seemed fairly convinced they were the DUFF. We all thought we were the weakest link in the group. So it started as a joke. I said I’d write a novel called The DUFF, but unlike in many stories, she wouldn’t be a sweet angel who took off her glasses and was suddenly a super model. Instead, my DUFF would be a little snarky and not-so-nice, and she’d stay a DUFF throughout. It was totally a joke, but then, out of nowhere, the characters of Wesley and Bianca appeared in my head, and I realized it was a story I actually had to tell.
A lot of readers have connected with Bianca’s story. What’s your favorite reader comment so far?
Oh, there have been so many wonderful, sweet messages and comments from readers that meant a lot to me. My favorite, though, was actually from a friend of mine. He called me up one day a few years ago to tell me he’d read the book. He said he hadn’t expected to like it because — in his words — “the cover is so pink and all.” But he told me he’d ended up really loving it — and especially loving Bianca, whom he related to. He also said that the book had inspired him to be more honest about some mental health issues he was facing and to be less ashamed of it himself. I’d known this guy for years, and to hear that the book had impacted him like that — especially when he hadn’t expected to like it — was really moving and meaningful to me.
We saw the movie last month and loved it! What was your favorite part?
Oh, god, how do I choose? The movie is hilarious! But I’d say probably every scene Ken Jeong was in. His character isn’t in the book, but I think it was such a lovely addition to the film. Pretty much every scene he’s in had me dying with laughter — and made me super bitter that I never had a teacher like that.
What do you hope readers and viewers gain from reading the book and seeing the film?
I hope the book and the movie leave people feeling empowered. The whole point is that everyone — no matter how smart or beautiful or talented you are — has insecurities sometimes. And in a way, that sort of unites us all. I hope people finish the story and maybe start to feel a little more comfortable in their own skin.
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Dying to read the book? Enter below to win one of five paperback copies of the novel! The giveaway ends next Friday and is open to U.S. readers only! Good luck!
Catch The DUFF on the big screen starting February 20th! And for more exciting YA movies and books, visit our Everything YA page!