Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Standalone. Greenwillow Books (May 2015) Own
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.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

You know when you just pick up a book because you've been seeing it around lately and you've heard only good things? You take a chance and that chance is rewarded a thousand fold? Yeah, well that rare moment arrived with me reading Made You Up.

Alex has paranoid schizophrenia so not only does she see things that aren't there, but she has to constantly survey her surroundings and convince herself that her classmates aren't communists. I've never read a story with a character who has schizophrenia so this was a totally eye-opening experience for me. It's pretty messed up the illnesses that are out there and it's amazing how people with those illnesses always have to struggle and fight for their "normal". 

“Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?
Would I even be myself?” 

I loved Alex and her fight for "normal". I especially loved when she fought back against Miles. Miles is a strange character when you meet him. You know something's up, but you aren't quite sure. He doesn't make real sense. He goes on a full out war against Alex on the first day of school. Sometimes he can be sweet and other times he's just a pain in Alex's side. Their little prank/war thing going on was inspired. 

“The only thing missing was Miles. But he was probably circling somewhere, destroying villages and hoarding gold in his mountain lair.” 

But, I loved both their characters before Alex started her Senior year in High School. I was instantly attracted to their personalities from the very first page - a flashback to when Alex was a little girl and Miles a little boy. The thing is Alex isn't sure if Miles is real or not. There are many things and people she's not sure about so she keeps a camera with her so she can analyze what's real and what's not. It works for her sometimes. It's like her window into reality when she can't rely on her eyes.

“Over time, the real remained in the photo while the hallucinations faded away. I discovered what sorts of things my mind liked to make up.” 
Alex's family is an integral part of the book and so are the friends she begins to make. Her mother is especially critical towards her. I could understand the mother's POV at some points, but since I was seeing everything through Alex's eyes I could feel the times she was failing the most. Her father is away a lot however, Alex's relationship with him is better. He's more gentle with her. Alex's little sister Charlie is really sweet and is always there for her older sister even though she doesn't know what is going on.

Zappia provides top notch writing for her debut. I'm so eager to see what else is up her sleave. The hype for Made You Up is real and I want to read more books that help me understand the minds of others.

What have Mental Health/Mental Illness books made you aware of?


  1. This sounds like a fascinating book. I like that it is a book that made you think about mental illness and the way other people see the world. The books I have read from someone's POV who has mental illness have made me had a lot of sympathy for people going through those same illness in real life. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. I feel the same way. I feel sympathy with those who have had really huge struggles in life. I'm not looking forward to a time where I have to deal with those struggles. That's probably why I'm astonished and thrilled when I read a book with a character facing adversity struggle and pick themselves back up.

  2. I have heard really good things about this book, and I want to read it soon! I'm glad you really liked it too. :)


    1. Made You Up is better than I could have expected. I hope you discover this soon (:


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