Sunday, September 20, 2015
Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published Date: 19 May 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
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. (summary from Goodreads)
Made You Up is a wild and surprising ride that delights and shocks at every turn.
Made You Up has an amazing narrative style that is quirky, engaging and unique. Told through Alex's point of view, who is schizophrenic and suffers delusions, we see the world through her eyes, and as she can't tell the difference between reality and delusions, neither can we. I loved it. Zappia constantly surprises with revelations of what actually is and is not real. The best thing about Made You Up is that it's really not easy to figure out. Often it blew my mind to find out just how wrong I was with my guesses. To begin with it's also kind of hilarious, but Made You Up soon takes a deeper and darker turn. Towards the end there is a lot thrown at us and it can at times have a real "WTF?!" effect. It left me reeling and while I can see how it might not be for everyone, I found it perfect. This isn't a book just about Alex's schizophrenia. Alex learns that every character is fighting their own battle - with bullying, abuse, depression, grief and more. There's so much to this book I just wasn't expecting and it is amazing, devastating and utterly heart-wrenching. The world is never just black and white and Zappia illustrates this in a vibrant, messy and epic burst of 'wow'. There was only one twist that I figured out early, and while it was a pretty big one, spotting it early didn't feel like a let down but was as devastating as it was intended to be. I was impressed by that. The emotion of Made You Up is powerful and it's a real credit to Zappia that that connection never wanes.
As the narrative is quirky and diverse, so too are its characters (at least in terms of personality). I adored Alex. She constantly struggles with her schizophrenia but remains positive. She has this matter of fact attitude about it all and a wicked sense of humour that she never loses, even at the worst of times. Her illness is terrifying and you're always reminded of it, but at the same time you're grinning. It's a little messed up but that's kind of the point of Made You Up. Speaking of messed up - hello, Miles! What a jerk! But oh, how I love him. Dig a little deeper and you realise Miles is a jerk to cover heartbreak and loneliness, and oh, oh, oh. Hugs all round! Alex and Miles's chemistry zinged. They understood each other, argued with each other, challenged each other and comforted each other. I was all a flutter over their developing friendship and romance. Alex and Miles made me so freaking happy. They're a bright spot in Made You Up. Even at the darkest of moments, and believe me, there are some truly scary moments, Alex and Miles had me wanting to dance for joy all over the place. The secondary characters are just as awesome. Charlie always had me grinning, Tucker was sweet, I felt for Alex's parents, and the Athletics Support Group were hilarious and so accepting. Seriously, I just love everything and everyone in this book. I am a huge bouncing ball of gleeful 'yes' for Made You Up!
Zappia's debut is a beautiful, weird, charming, messy, terrifying, wonderful (and more!) read that is wholly original. Whatever your expectations, be prepared to have them exceeded. Made You Up is that good. Let go and just go with it!