Made You Up

17661416by Francesca Zappia
YA Contemporary
3 of 5 stars
Debut Novel – May 19, 2015

First of all, let me just say this book was really enjoyable and I read it in 24 hours. It’s interesting and quirky and cute and if you like YA at all, you’ll probably like it. But–and this is kind of a big but–I’m pretty sure zero medical research went into this book. Like….none. At all. Why is that a big deal? Because our main character and narrator, Alexandra, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. I’m honestly torn on my rating because as great as it is to depict mental health issues in YA, there’s basically no point if you aren’t going to be accurate.

Alex is charming, stubborn, and constantly fighting the knowledge that anything she sees or hears at a given time might not be real. The prologue’s story about the lobsters is one of the cutest things I have ever read–seriously, ever. You’ll probably like spending time in her head, but it shouldn’t be taken as an actual schizophrenic person’s perspective. Little things like the incorrect use of the word “delusion” bothered me (especially since specific vocabulary is a theme of the book) but I could let it go for the sake of the story. Things like characters requiring no recovery time after a concussion bothered me. Alex’s parents REALLY bothered me! But I wanted to see what happened next, and I liked Alex, I wanted to stick with her. As it turns out, the last hundred pages become a convoluted mess of complex issues and “resolutions” that makes this seem much more like a typical YA story and less like a bold step into deeper waters. I get the feeling that not only was research non-existent, but the author might not even know someone with a therapist of any kind. Putting a big bow on everything at the end (and I don’t use that expression lightly) damaged what little credibility remained at the end.

Ultimately, these issues kept this book firmly in the “fun” camp and took it out of the “meaningful” “emotional” “informative” camps. I’m interested to see what this author does next–she has a strong voice and talent, but she needs a little more precision if she’s going to continue in this vein.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Made You Up is available on Goodreads and on Powell’s store website, here. Powell’s has several locations in Oregon, and is one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – I’ve heard this is a more accurate portrayal of mental illness, and compared with Made You Up I would have to agree. This is a relatively short novel about Pat and his quest to become the perfect man so that God will restore his estranged wife Nikki to him. His neighbor Tiffany has her own issues, but it takes him awhile to realize they might be good friends. The writing is great, both book and movie are excellent.
  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold – Mim is not okay–she has moved hundreds of miles away from her mother to live with her father and new stepfamily. But her mother isn’t well, and Mim decides to take a solo road trip to visit her. She is not putting off dealing with her own mental health issues. See my review here.
  • Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma – This doesn’t deal with mental health issues but it does have an unreliable narrator and a similar sense of unreality. See my review here.
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – A dark and disturbing portrayal of Lia’s struggle with anorexia and related issues following her best friend’s death. See my review here.
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord – A funny and emotional story about Vivi and Jonah, who use each other in different ways to forget their troubles, until their problems become too big to ignore. See my review here.
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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. erinkbay
    Sep 23, 2015 @ 08:59:06

    Ha… I kind of had a feeling that this book might not really portray what schizophrenia might be like… It’s too bad, but I’m glad that it was still enjoyable! I’ve been meaning to read this!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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