Alex fights a daily battle to figure out what is real and what is not. 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 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. Can she trust herself? Can we trust her?
Made You Up has been on my radar for ages, but if it wasn’t for a blind book date at YALC, I still wouldn’t have added it to my shelves. How can I say no to a book with the very intriguing “reality is not what you perceive”-line on the wrapped cover? When I uncovered this book from the wrapping, I literally screamed. Maybe I was going to start reading this one very soon after all.
With a book about schizophrenia, you can be sure of two things: one, the story is going to be difficult to follow and two, the narrator is going to be about as unreliable as it can possibly get. Surprisingly, the plot wasn’t that difficult to follow in this one. It did get a bit… scattered at the ending, but it was still very linear and clear. Usually in books about schizophrenia, you get submerged in a world that is complicated and utterly chaotic, but Zappia did an amazing job balancing a clear story and showing what’s happening in her main character’s head.
I didn’t have the luxury of taking reality for granted. And I wouldn’t say I hated people who did, because that’s just about everyone. I didn’t hate them. They didn’t live in my world.
But that never stopped me from wishing I lived in theirs.
The narrator did indeed end up being unreliable and I was kept on the tips of my toes throughout the book, second-guessing almost anything that Alex saw. I was completely drawn into her world, trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t. Now, I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was so original to read.
The best part about the story however was how Alex isn’t defined by her mental illness. She has a life: school, hobbies, work, friends, community service… she has and juggles them all. The schizophrenia is something she deals with, but it is not the only thing that makes up her life. And even though she isn’t the most likable of characters, she is undeniably real (and I mean that in the honest human kind of way, not the make-believe kind of way).
Zappia also populated her story with a whole cast of amazing secondary characters. They all have their own voice and personality and have their own struggles to deal with. It’s not often that a book that is so heavily focused on the main character also has secondary characters that are well-developed, but Made You Up is definitely one of those books.
In the end, I was a bit hesitant to pick it up as I heard somewhere that the schizophrenia rep wasn’t all that great. I’m standing here with a hand on my heart, stating that the rep IS amazingly done. I do have to admit that this is not a book that everyone will love or be able to get through, but I do recommend it with every fiber of my being. Gosh this was beautiful to read.
Have you read this book? If not, does it sound interesting to you? If yes, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!