Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Genre: YA, Mental Health, Contemporary
Source: E-Galley from the publisher through Edelweiss
This. Book. Was. Amazing. With the barrage of YA about teen mental health lately, this book kind of scared me since they all feel like the story’s been done before. This book delivered. I’ll get into the finer points after your synopsis from Amazon:
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?
1. The beginning of this book confused me so much, but it was a running theme throughout the book.
In the beginning, we see Sam in a grocery store. She is seemingly obsessed with the lobsters in the tank because she believes that the lobsters share her hair color. We meet a boy she dubs Blue Eyes and he helps her set the lobsters free from the tank into the grocery store. At the end of the first chapter, we find out that it wasn’t real – she never set the lobsters free – and we find out about her schizophrenia, when she was diagnosed, and how she proves to herself that things are real: taking pictures of them. That sentence was long, had a ton of punctuation, and was totally worth it. We also find out that Alex loves Yoo-Hoo and it made me crave one horribly. Now that you mention it, I haven’t had one in awhile…
2. Alex’s mother is probably the worst.
Call me naive, but I think that parents of children with mental illnesses – especially illnesses like schizophrenia – should be understanding and supportive. I’m not sure if that’s how it works in the real world, but Alex’s mom really made me hate her.
3. Miles. Oh, that Miles.
As soon as Alex gets to her new school (she is forced to go to her rival school because of some past…transgressions) she is forced to do community service, of which Miles is the leader. Miles is brash, rude, insulting, and really cute. Throughout the entire book, I knew something was off about him. He comes from a severely broken home and he has a severely douchey exterior. But is that exterior protection? If it is, from what or who is he protecting himself? (I know the answers to these questions, but I’m not telling. You have to read this book).
4. There are some SERIOUS mean girls in this book.
You will not believe the lengths one of these mean girls goes to in order to get the things she wants AND to try and turn the school against Alex. And, once you find out why she’s doing these things, it’s kind of heartbreaking. But through most of the book, I hated her because she was way more crazy than Alex could ever think she is. Celia is one serious mean girl and she has some seriously dark secrets to go along with her.
5. Character development: this book does it so well.
Alex tries to hide throughout her first months in her new school. She’s basically resigned to the fact that she won’t have any friends because of her schizophrenia because that’s how it was in her old school. By the end of the book, she goes through a LOT of crazy stuff that is actually real and not in her imagination that her changes astounded me. The same goes for Miles, who we find out has a lot of secrets of his own. I felt so invested in these characters that when one was in trouble, my Kindle was in danger of taking a flight across the room.
6. The stigma around mental illness is so well addressed.
I know that mental illness is kind of a big thing in YA right now, and that makes me so happy. However, some of these books surrounding mental illness seem like they kind of piggyback and copycat off of each other until they all seem like the same story. Not so with Made You Up. Schizophrenia is something I have dealt with in an ex-boyfriend’s mother and let me just tell you how scary it is experiencing it as an outsider. Imagine dealing with it in your own brain. People with schizophrenia are treated like it is their fault they have this disease. It isn’t their fault. All they are trying to do is get control of their own minds and you cannot believe how much medication these people are prescribed. Most of the time, the meds don’t work. If they work, they have horrible side effects and all they make you want to do is sleep all day or make you feel loopy and not yourself. The way Alex handles this is brilliant. She takes pictures of everything to show herself what’s real. She makes sure to look at the pictures later so she can tell herself when her own mind is tricking her. Sorry about the mental illness rant. It’s an important topic that needs to be talked about.
OVERALL: 4 STARS!!! I loved this book so much. There was a huge twist at the end (which of course I won’t tell you) and this was totally heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. This was full of so much hope and love. I couldn’t put it down. This comes out on May 19, so click the link below to preorder!