Book Review: MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia

Photo credit: Goodreads
So I've mentioned Made You Up a couple times here on the blog, and recently featured a guest post from the lovely Francesca Zappia, but now I've read the book and I have feels to share.

As I like to do before I begin, here is the Goodreads summary:

"Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar
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 to be one of the most unique contemporary YAs I've read in quite a while. From the very start it had me questioning what was real and what was a delusion (I've heard Made You Up marketed as "the ultimate unreliable narrator" and it is so true!). While I can't speak about how well or not represented the schizophrenia was, as I don't have the expertise to do so, I can say as a story it was totally fascinating and I loved how it made me think the whole time I was reading.

Initially, I found the pacing a teensie bit slower than I usually like, but I was still absolutely interested in the characters and what was going on. Alex's struggle made me connect to her immediately, and the cast of characters from Miles, to Tucker, to the triplets, and everyone else just felt very true to everyday high school experience (minus, you know, the out of the ordinary stuff going on).

Overall, I definitely recommend Made You Up to those looking for a fresh, unique contemporary YA and anyone looking for a brilliant example of an unreliable narrator in YA. As a bonus, I was happy to see mental illness handled respectfully, and very I'm curious to see what those with a better understanding and experience with schizophrenia think about the representation.

Great story with great characters and really wonderful writing. Made You Up lives up to the hype for sure. 4.5/5 stars.

Diversity note: Made You Up's protagonist has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Have you read any great books lately?

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae gives 4.5/5 stars to MADE YOU UP by @ChessieZappia. Have you read this unique contemporary YA? (Click to tweet)

Looking for a wonderfully unreliable narrator in a fresh YA? Check out MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia. (Click to tweet)


MK said...

I've been so on the fence about this one. Have you read Where the Moon Isn't? That was a lovely book dealing with similar subject matter but it was so sad I don't think I'm ready to have that experience all over again quite yet.

Ava Jae said...

I haven't! Is it also YA?

Heather said...

Writing about someone with mental illness is something I've never tried to tackle, but since it's something I've seen in a family member, it's definitely something to keep thinking about as I move forward. Thanks for sharing what you learned—it always helps to have something familiar to think about before making the plunge.

Heather said...

It sounds like an interesting book, and especially after reading her guest post, I'm curious to read the book! Thanks for sharing, Ava!

Ava Jae said...

I agree! I thought it was a really thoughtful post. :)

Ava Jae said...

It is! I hope you try it out. :) You're welcome, Heather!

MK said...

You know, it's not classified as YA even though I'm pretty sure the protagonist is only 18 or 19. Maybe it's the writing style--it's more adult. Still worth reading IMO!

Ava Jae said...

Interesting! Yeah most YA cutoff is at 17 (though there are occasional exceptions). Good to know, thanks!

Nadia Santos said...

This is a beautifully written, touching read with plenty of humour, I highly suggest you read it immediately!


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