Sunday, May 24, 2015

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

4 "Wait, What?" Stars

Back Cover Blurb -

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.


Eintstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I kept taking pictures, hoping I’d look at one and know its subject was a hallucination. I did my perimeter checks, thinking I’d eventually be able to walk around paranoia-free. I spent every day hoping someone would tell me I smelled like lemons.
If I wasn’t insane by anyone else’s definition, I figured I was at least insane by Einstein’s.

Made You Up is the debut novel by author Francesca Zappia and for the most part, I applaud her efforts and found that I enjoyed the book more than I did not. Based off of this book, I will definitely add Ms. Zappia as an author to read and I look forward to see what other books she releases to mess with my mind.

A saying that I never really understood is when someone says “they scratched their head in confusion.” I am often confused, some might say I live in a state of confusion, but I don’t think that I have ever really scratched my head because of it. If I have, then I do it without realizing it – something that I will pay closer attention to from now on, but in any case, this book had me doing the proverbial “confused head scratch” the whole time. THE.WHOLE.TIME. Much like our unreliable narrator in this story, Alex, I was fumbling around trying to make heads or tails of everything that was going on and I had not a clue as to what to believe or not believe while reading and I learned never to take anything that Ms. Zappia had written at face value. 

I am not schizophrenic (clinically), nor do I know anyone that has clinically been declared schizophrenic, but if the depiction of this illness in this book is to be believed and portrayed correctly, then damn…just DAMN. Storyline and plot aside, this book was a huge eye opener for me when it comes to the daily struggles and life of a schizophrenic. Life is hard enough to navigate on its own, I can’t imagine how hard it would be adding not being able to trust your own mind into the mix.

Alex is a teenage girl with normal teenage girl problems, but those problems are the least of Alex’s worries and are only the beginning of Alex’s daily struggles. Classified as a paranoid schizophrenic, nothing about Alex or her life can be trusted, because there is a good possibility that none of it is real. Armed with a camera and determined not to let her illness get the best of her, Alex starts a new school with a clean slate. No one at this school knows her secret, no one at this school knows the details of why she had to leave her last school and no one at this school calls her crazy. No one yet anyway. Trying hard to keep a solid grip on reality, we journey with Alex as she faces her challenges head on, but when a sinister plot at her new school slowly becomes apparent, Alex must become the most unlikely hero in her own story. Filled with mystery, intrigue, truths, half-truths and delusion, Made You Up will have you questioning your own grasp on reality while trying to discern truth from fiction.

I will be very upfront with you when I say, Made You Up is weird. So very weird. I was constantly second guessing my own storyline theories and just when I thought I had it all figured out, the story would then throw another twist my way that made me second guess myself all over again. It would be one thing if all schizophrenic illusions were easily identified based on the doubtful actuality and physical existence of the forms/situations encountered, but to be probable and likely forms/situations, it really was exhausting! For example, if Alex was to walk down the street and see a hot pink unicorn, eating a cupcake, wearing a tutu and reciting the alphabet, I could more easily view that as an illusion caused by the schizophrenia, but when normal (I use this term loosely) people, situations and conversations occur that are in fact illusions, I found myself quickly weary of everyone and everything in this book.

Overall, yes, I recommend this book to read. It’s weird, it’s compelling, it’s different and mostly, it’s nothing like anything I have ever read before. I have taken on my share of “weird” reads, but this one ranks right up there close to the top and I think it should be experienced by everyone. It may not be one that you mark as one of your favorites and you may hate it, but I don’t think that anyone that reads it will be sorry that they did. If anything, it’s one of those books that makes you think and sometimes those are the best kind.

Happy reading, until next time…   

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