Made You Up, by Francesca Zappia
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
I didn’t have the luxury of taking reality for granted. And I wouldn’t say I hated people who did, because that’s just about everyone. I didn’t hate them. They didn’t live in my world.
But that never stopped me from wishing I lived in theirs.
This book is beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful. I love it so much, there’s even a song that reminds me of it.
What Made You Up does is humanize a one of the scariest mental conditions there is—both to people on the outside, and the inside. Naturally, if you saw a person talking to someone that wasn’t there, you would be freaked out—until you take into consideration just how terrified the other person must be, because they can’t tell reality apart from illusion. It has to be horrifying.
Alex is a girl with paranoid schizophrenia. She hears and sees things that aren’t really there, and she’s suspicious of everything, from other people to the food she eats. When she was 7 years old, she met a boy in Meijer that helped her set the lobsters free—or so she thought, because according to her mother, she simply got her arm stuck in the tank. Years later, she’s convinced herself that the boy she met that day, her first friend, was just a hallucination.
Until a boy that looks just like him shows up at her new school. He’s nothing like she remembered, but little pieces of him start to surface that keep reminding her of the boy she met that day, and she yet again has to wonder what was real and what was all inside of her head.
The moment I knew I was going to love this book was right here:
The first thing I noticed about East Shoal High School was that it didn’t have a bike rack. You know a school is run by stuck-up sons of bitches when it doesn’t even have a bike rack.
Alex is a wonderful character. Her narration is very fun and refreshing, and it’s interesting to read from her point of view because we don’t know if what she’s seeing is a hallucination or not. It might be real or it might not be, but we don’t know.
Her relationship with Miles, the boy who looks like Blue Eyes, is also a lot of fun. They start out hating each other, but not in the sort of way that I’m used to. It’s usually a lot of growling or hissing or teasing. Alex and Miles are different: they do stuff like trip each other and throw their backpack on the floor. At one point, Miles severs the bar that connects her desk to her chair. In retaliation, Alex sets a tube of fire ants into Mile’s backpack.
Their relationship is sort of complicated and hostile at first, but it develops. And while their romance is a big part of this book, the other is Alex’s inner struggle with her mind. And it broke my heart.
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?
This helped me understand a lot more about schizophrenia. It’s beautifully written and told, and while the story is a little crazy, it reminds us that people like Alex are not.