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I Belong

Early Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You UpTitle: Made You Up

Author: Francesca Zappia

Genre: YA Contemporary/Mental Illness

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages

ISBN-10: 006229010X (Greenwillow Books)

ISBN-13: 978-0062290106 (Greenwillow Books)

Reviewed by: Zed


Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. For fans of Silver Linings Playbook and Liar, this thought-provoking debut tells the story of Alex, a high school senior—and the ultimate unreliable narrator—unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion.

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?

Quick & Dirty: What a fantastically amazing read! This story of a schizophrenic girl struggling with reality is not one to be missed.

Opening Sentence: Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Made You Up is officially one of my favourite reads from 2015. Call me morbid but I’ve read more books about mental illnesses in the past five months than I probably have in my entire life. Made You Up tops that list.

Alex is schizophrenic and incredibly paranoid. She performs a perimeter check wherever she goes, searches for poison in the food her mother feeds her and takes photographs of everything to help distinguish between reality and her hallucinations. I sympathised with her because although she’s trying to take control of her life, her biggest fear is students from her new school discovering her illness and bullying her. That, and being sent to the mental asylum.

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. Paranoid got tacked on about a year later, after I verbally attacked a librarian for trying to hand me propaganda pamphlets for an underground communist force operating out of the basement of the public library. (She’d always been a very suspect type of librarian – I refuse to believe donning rubber gloves to handle books is a normal and accepted practice, and I don’t care what anyone says.)

I adored Miles because he’s so different from the standard book boyfriend. Miles is a genius but everyone’s terrified of him for one reason or another. No one really knows him, all they know is that he does odd jobs for money, be that stealing someone’s beloved dog or breaking into a house and playing a prank. He distances himself from everyone and is ultimately the Moody guy no one dares approach for fear of angering him.

“Why do you hate him so much?” I asked Tucker.
“I don’t know if ‘hate’ is the right word,” he replied. “’Am afraid of him,’ ‘wish he’d stop staring,’ and ‘think he’s a lunatic’ are more accurate.”
“Afraid of him?”
“The whole school is.”
“Because it’s impossible to know what’s going on in his head.” Tucker looked back to me. “Have you ever seen a person completely change? Like, completely completely? So much that they don’t even have the same facial expressions they used to? That’s what happened to him.”

When Alex arrives at school, for a minute she thinks Miles is the boy she met as a little girl when she tried to free the lobsters. But, he can’t be the same kind boy with blue eyes because her family forced her to believe that the lobster incident was one of her hallucinations. Not to mention, this older blue-eyed boy is cold, mean and plays horrible pranks on Alex. Not one to cower away, Alex retaliates with her version of revenge and I loved the argumentative banter between the two.

What I loved most is that the story isn’t just about Alex and her illness, it’s also about Miles and his struggles at home. They complemented each other perfectly and I thought their relationship was beyond cute. Neither is perfect but they make the other better, and I loved that aspect of their romance. Plus they’re both the ultimate historian nerds, which made me chuckle.

This is a beautifully written, touching read with plenty of humour, I highly suggest you read it immediately! (Or as soon as you can)

Notable Scene:

“Are you real?” I asked.

“Yes, I am,” he said resolutely. He pressed my hand harder to his chest. His heart beat like a drum.

“I am real. This”-he put his other hand over the first-“is real. You see me interacting with other people all day long, don’t you? I talk to people; I affect things in the world. I cause things to happen. I am real.”

“But-but what if this whole place”-I had to suck in air again-“what if everything is inside my head? East Shoal and Scarlet and this bridge and you-what if you’re not real because nothing is real?”

“If nothing’s real, then what does it matter?” he said. “You live her. Doesn’t that make it real enough?”


FTC Advisory: Greenwillow/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Made You Up. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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