Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Book Title: Made You Up
Author: Francesca Zappia
Published Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from 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: I received this e-ARC from Greenwillow Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Review:
I knew instantly this book was right up my alley. There is such a shortage of YA books dealing with mental illness, and that disappoints me. Mental illness is such a taboo subject, but by writing this book, Zappia shows us the realities of schizophrenia, and we see clearly that these teenagers are just trying to be as normal as possible.

At first, the book is kind of slow, but as the book continues, and we’re introduced to the rest of the group that Alex will be doing community service with, I could tell that I was going to fall in love with this book, and boy did I ever. I fell in love with this book more and more every single chapter. That’s how special this book was.

Alex is a paranoid schizophrenic, and she copes with that by doing perimeter checks, taking pictures and taking medication. She’s starting over in a new school after being kicked out of her previous school for spray painting the word communists on the gym floor, with bold red paint. Over the summer she’s been working at Finnegan’s, a restaurant and she met Tucker there. Tucker was an absolute sweetheart. He was by her side throughout this book. Even when she begins spending more time with Miles. Many years ago, Miles and Tucker had a serious falling out which resulted in their friendship ending. Tucker doesn’t trust Miles, but he worries about Alex, even as Alex tries to assure Tucker that Miles is not a bad person.

She’s sure she remembers Miles from ten years ago when she freed the lobsters at the supermarket. He helped her, of that, Alex is certain. Even though her own mother is insistent that wasn’t what happened. I wasn’t sure if I liked Miles, and for awhile there I wondered if Miles was even real or was he just another delusion.

Miles has his own demons and while it takes him awhile to open up to Alex, he finally lets her in and that moment is beautiful and heartwarming. He’s not afraid of her. Even when she lets him in on what’s going on with her, he doesn’t run away. Neither do any of the kids in the after school community service group. Even when the cat is out of the bed metaphorically, they stand by her side. I looooved that part. So many kids who have mental illness don’t have any friends because the mental illness scares them. Plus the very negative stigma that having mental illness brings with it. Teens that deal with mental illness also deal with the isolation that often accompanies it.

I loved Alex’s family, they were so supportive, though to be honest I was peeved at her father a lot of times. He should have been there physically more than he actually was. A lot of the stress fell squarely on her mom’s shoulders and I worried about her mom too. She was trying to keep everything afloat, but it was clear to me that she struggled.

I didn’t realize how much I had fallen in love with this book and it’s characters until I reached the end of it. I hugged my Kindle and bawled my eyes out as I finished this book. This book was so important, and I would even make the argument that it needs to be considered required reading. I know it changed me in ways I was never expecting. 5 stars to this book that combines and important topic with a likable protagonist and an endearing boy.

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