“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted” – Alex from Made You Up
- Fiction, young adult, mental illness, contemporary
- Warnings: This book deals with topics of mental illness and though the author did explain that she did much researching on the topic before writing this book, it may or may not fully and accurately depict someone with schizophrenia and therefore, like with anything dealing with such a topic, should not be used as the only/final source of knowledge on this topic. Also some crude language and slightly crude scenes.
“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.”
When I first read that the main character, Alex, had schizophrenia I was a little unsure if I should read this. Not because of the schizophrenia but because of the negative ways mental illness is sometimes portrayed in media. Many times, mental illness is demonized and/or depicted as something that happens to the “bad guys”. It’s either viewed as the sole motivator/plot tool for a serial killer in a slasher film or as a cheap and insulting butt of a joke. So, with that in mind, I was hesitant to read a book about a character with schizophrenia by author Francesca Zappia who doesn’t have schizophrenia or have been close to someone with schizophrenia.
In the end, I decided to give Made You Up a chance. And, as a person who has had no personal contact with schizophrenia other than what I learned in my Psych classes and the movie, “A Beautiful Mind”, I really enjoyed it. Knowing that Alex is schizophrenic, from the start, you already know that her narrative will be somewhat unreliable – men in black type guys on the roof of her school, a phoenix that flies around her town, talking lobsters, etc. The book is filled with instances where the reader will get used to the idea of something existing only for it later on to be revealed as a product of Alex’s schizophrenia. Even the ending I questioned for awhile whether it was real or not. (The optimist in me has decided it was real and no one can tell me differently!)
Overall, Alex is a really likable character, despite her unreliability as a narrator. Though obviously her schizophrenia plays an important part in her day to day life, it’s her desire to succeed at things that others take for granted that makes her an interesting character. Despite still not being sure if this can be considered an accurate portrayal of schizophrenia, I really like Francesca Zappia’s writing style, especially for her debut novel and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future. If nothing else, I think Made You Up takes a positive step in reinforcing the idea that people dealing with mental health issues are just that, people just like everyone else with their own lives and stories.
What do you guys think? Have you read Made You Up already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.