Author: Francesca Zappia
Read: November 12th-15th
Publisher: Greenwill Books
Release Date: May 19th, 2015
In short: an adorable and quirky story with a hilarious (and unreliable!) narrator; this book was the opposite of my expectations.
Goodreads: Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
Disclaimer, first off: I don’t know if this book portrays schizophrenia accurately. Made You Up is still a great story, if a little over-the-top with the quirky friends, with a fabulous main character and an adorable romance.
≫ THE PLOT:
Schizophrenia isn’t supposed to manifest until a person’s late teens, at the earliest, but I’d gotten a shot of it at just seven years old. I was diagnosed at thirteen.
Alex is moving to the next of a string of schools, and struggling to hide the reason she got kicked out of her old one—her paranoia and her schizophrenia. All she wants to do is stay on the down low and finish her last year of high school, but then she runs into a classmate who looks exactly like one of her first hallucinations. Which begs the question: is he real? Is everything falling apart? Or, possibly, both?
Made You Up progresses at a good pace, and Alex’s hilarious voice doesn’t hurt one bit. It has every ingredient necessary for a successful YA novel: a lovable main character, humour, romance, and a wild conspiracy theory. What I especially love is the way the story manages to explore lighthearted aspects along with dark issues without losing the impact of either. My only problem was the unlikelihood of a small town having two schools whose rivalry is so fierce that word doesn’t travel between them at all. Overall, though, this is a solid plot.
≫ THE PROTAGONIST:
I was the scariest thing out here tonight.
I absolutely loved Alex. She’s so funny, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with her voice. But even aside from that, it’s impossible not to root for Alex. Through her ups and downs, the worst of her paranoia and hallucinations, she stays amazingly strong. You live those ups and downs with her.
And, of course, Alex makes for the perfect unreliable narrator, because she has no idea if anything she’s seeing is a hallucination or not. The entire book is more psychological than anything, and Alex is what drives that. So, a main character who feels like a real person but is also a great narrator? Yes, please!
≫ THE OTHER CHARACTERS:
Alex’s unlikely friends are kind of the quirk parade, I’ll admit that to you. But I adored every single one of them, from Fred to Tucker. Unfortunately, there is a stereotypical mean girl, but I found I didn’t dislike that as much as I thought I would, because even her story comes with an unusual twist. But really, the best-written character, aside from Alex herself, was Miles. You can’t put a label on him—bad boy? Wait, no, nerd boy. Wait, no—and that’s what really makes him stand out. He’s so completely unique, unlike literally any male love interest I’ve ever read about. The supporting cast is just as fun as Alex!
≫ THE ROMANCE:
“It’s rude to stare at people.”
“Is it?” He sounded serious. “Tell me if I’m doing something weird. Sometimes I can’t tell.”
I wasn’t so sure how I felt about this romance in the beginning, but then! It suddenly explodes into a huge load of fluffy adorableness. I loved the way Miles and Alex get past their initial, ahem, dislike of each other, and grow to care for and support each other. They understood each other, and that was what made them so wonderful.
≫ THE ENDING:
My thoughts on this are way too spoiler-y to put in here, but I will say that the ending was satisfying. The climax was a bit too rushed to me—possibly because I was reading at breakneck speed—but overall, I liked the way Made You Up was resolved.
≫ TO SUMMARISE:
Definitely read this book. Made You Up is a great debut, and I can’t wait to read another of Francesca Zappia’s books!