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Author : Francesca Zappia
Publisher : Harper Collins
Genre : YA, Contemporary, Mental Health
Source : Publisher
Rating : 3.75 Stars
I have wanted Made You Up since I spotted the gorgeous cover on my instagram feed. Many international YA bloggers were talking about it, adding it to their hauls and “unboxing” this on their youtube channels and I wanted to weep because I couldn’t find this in India and I just HAD to own something that looked as beautiful as this looked. Little did I know, or check, if the contents were as beautiful as the cover. And I’m happy to report that they are. Indeed they are.
Now, as a sporadic reader of YA I must admit that I usually keep my expectations low when it comes to the genre. Especially when it comes to book that people rave about. It isn’t because YA isn’t as good as adult books, it is because I simply find it has very little to offer me. So, I had almost written off YA when I found a few gems and decided to give it another shot. And this book is one of those gems that keep people reading.
Made You Up follows Alex, a girl with schizophrenia, who has just shifted schools after an incident that she only refers to as “The Stadium Incident”. We don’t really know what happens till later in the book but that isn’t important. What is important is how her actions there affect her life at a new school, making her part of a group of people who’ve done similar things and are now doing community service at the school she is part of. I don’t wish to tell you more than this because if I did it would spoil the whole book for you. There is a reason the synopsis tells you so little.
WHAT I LIKED : Alex as a character was very interesting. If you like unreliable narrators then this one takes the cake because not only do you not know what’s going on for sure, even she doesn’t. She has Schizophrenia. And if you don’t know what that means you will come to know through the quick explaining she does at the beginning. Which was another thing I liked, the explanation for people who might not know what it is and might not want to do the googling to find out. And she isn’t the only one with mental health issues, there are other here that strike you as odd and soon you have an explanation for what’s up with them.
The author seems to have done her research on the illnesses she has written about. I do not know for sure not having known anyone who has these problems but it did seem well researched and for that I am grateful. The author spins the story well, right from Alex going to school and making new friends and, mostly, new enemies. Trying hard to keep secret her health conditions and trying to get along with her mother who is constantly on edge with a high maintenance family. While the relationships weren’t as well written as I would have liked she did create this disembodied style that makes you feel like it is coming from someone that has a few problems.
Before this the only time I had “seen” someone in popular media with Schizophrenia was in criminal minds and they always showed them as just that, criminals. So it was a very refreshing experience to see if from a different point of view. What I particularly liked was the ending. It was so well done that the book went up from 3 star. I didn’t expect that from a YA book and so I have to appreciate the author’s ingenuity.
WHAT I DISLIKED : Just like with any other book there are things I disliked so I shall list them out for you. I don’t think the friendships and relationships were well written. Yes, teenagers make friends faster than adults and they don’t need that many significant interactions as adults do but I still found it hard to believe. The same for whatever is happening in her classes, I found the teachers’ dismissal of her and lack of knowledge about her condition despite the principal knowing, a little hard to believe. While these could be actual problems I have, sort of, accepted them because again, this is from her POV and her POV can be unreliable. What I could not accept was the bollywood style dramatic ending but then again, her POV isn’t reliable. So…
Overall, I would certainly recommend this for anyone who is looking to read about mental health, especially a younger audience. If it doesn’t make them go out and be friends with anyone and everyone atleast it will help them see things from a different point of view and maybe be a little kinder.
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, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college, wages a war against her schizophrenia. 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.
*Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. Opinions expressed are my own.