Reality Bites: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia


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.

Source: GoodReads

I have a lot of nice things to say about this book.  For one thing, I felt like it dealt with mental illness on a level that isn’t often done in YA.

There’s often a talk about diversity in YA, but I often think that focus on diversity on race, culture,  and sexual orientation and has neglect other types of diversity-i.e. characters that suffer from mental or physical adversity.  Sure, there are a few books that do look at different obstacles that a character might suffer, but as a whole there aren’t a lot books focusing on physical of mental impairments which is a shame because a lot of people do suffer from various impairments.

Paranoid schizophrenia is a mental disorder that is horrifying and fascinating.   To not have a grip on reality is a terrifying and often some of the things that people who suffer from the disease perceive can be puzzling  if not horrifying.

People often have a distorted view of what suffers of schizophrenia are like, and I liked how relatable Alex was in this book.  She could’ve been anyone’s sister.  Anyone’s friend.  She didn’t spend the entire book discussing her disease, but it was a part of her life.  Zappia made the reader see how the delusions that Alex occasionally sees and hears affects her life.

That was the best part of the novel.

Sometimes I did feel like the disease might’ve been going into cliche territory, but then Zappia would do a twist that would surprise me.  I think one thing that I wanted to see, but we didn’t see in this book was Alex’s relationship with her shrink.

Like them or not, a person suffering from a psychiatric disorder is going to have some sort of relationship with their mental health professional.  While I didn’t expect Zappia to write every session between Alex and Leeann, I wanted some clue into what was going on in those therapy sessions.

I thought like I was missing time because those sections weren’t put in the book.

To be honest, while the first third to first half of the book was compellingly readable, the book’s pacing got odd as the book progressed. At times I almost felt like there was no clear direction that the story was trying to go towards.  Was it trying to be like Veronica Mars or something?  That mystery with the scoreboard and the principal really didn’t work for me.

And then there was the love story in the book.  At it’s core, it was the strongest thing about the book.  I loved how this relationship isn’t instant and there are so many layers to both Alex and Miles in the book.  Both characters have their own quirks and demons to deal with and both of them are devastating characters.

Although it had flaws, I really did enjoy Made You Up, I liked that it looked at how a character lived with mental illness.  Although, some of the pacing was messed up.  I will am definitely recommending this one.

Overall Rating: A very solid B.


3 thoughts on “Reality Bites: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

    • Yeah, I did notice that there are a lot of summer releases that seem to be focusing more on mental illness. Sophie Kinsella has a book out about anxiety and there’s another YA book coming out this month about OCD.

  1. Pingback: Depression Isn’t a Laughing Matter Except in This Book: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Howdy YAL!

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