Made You Up – Francesca Zappia – Greenwillow Books – Published 19 May 2015
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.
Made You Up has been on my to-read list for a while but I only picked it up after reading Fancesca Zappia’s new book Eliza and Her Monsters which is AMAZING!! So I had high expectations for Made You Up. And it certainly lived up to them in terms of writing style and story and characters, obviously it doesn’t have the extra story and accompanying webcomic panels, but it shares the refreshing honest and up-front way of talking about teenage mental health within a totally authentic setting.
Alex is starting at a new high school after an Incident at her last school involving spray paint, the gym floor and the possibility of communists. Alex is hoping that she will be able hide the fact that she has paranoid schizophrenia from her new classmates. But that might be hard when her new principal could be crazy, the school’s scoreboard is haunted and the boy from her childhood, whom she previously thought was a hallucination, might actually be real.
Sometimes this book just utterly stole my breath. Gut. Punch. Other times I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t. That’s just how amazing this book is at getting in Alex’s head. You live every moment as Alex. The book is so utterly authentic. And yet, it never feels like “Mental Heath” is a Theme. There is no preaching, no, oh I should be finding a bigger message in all this. And that makes it all the more important.
Alex is a wonderful narrator and she is surrounded by equally vibrant and authentic characters, including the delightfully jerk-y Miles and the other club members. I loved the end and enjoyed reading every word in this delightful story.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Mental health, depression, paranoid schizophrenia, romance, friendship, high school, relationships.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (19), sh** (15), sl** (2), bit** (14), di** (7), assh*** (9). Sexual references.
Published: 19 May 2015 by Greenwillow Books
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 448 pages.