Friday, November 27, 2015

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

"I don'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..."

When she was younger, Alex once met a boy at Meijer's. She didn't know his name, but she called him Blue Eyes. He helped her free the lobsters from their tank. Now a senior in high school, Alex knows that the boy wasn't real. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and she doesn't always know if what she sees is real. To help tell the difference, she carries a camera to take pictures of anything suspicious. If anything in the photo disappears, Alex knows that it's all in her head.

Because of an incident at her old school, namely spray-painting "Communists" on the gym floor, she ends up transferring for her senior year. Alex really wants to do well and get into college. She knows that if she messes up again, her mother will send her to a mental hospital.

Her therapist, who she calls the Gravedigger, also recommended that she get a job. She works at a restaurant called Finnegan's with the nerdy Tucker. He attends her new school and tells her that everyone there is insane. He also advises her to stay away from Miles, a particularly prickly regular customer. Alex messes up her first interaction with Miles by spilling water on him. In Alex's defense, she was distracted because Miles bears a resemblance to Blue Eyes: freckles, sandy hair, and blue eyes, and anyone would freak out if their imaginary friend appeared out of the blue. 

Being the new girl at school isn't fun, but Alex copes as well as she can. As community service, Alex has to join Miles' club, a group that sets up for sporting events and sells concessions. She has a strange relationship with Miles. She thinks that he hates her, but you can tell that he really, really doesn't.

Miles has a lot of power at the school, even though kids tease him and call him a Nazi for his German accent. Students pay him to do things, get revenge or play pranks. He plays some jokes on Alex, and she plays some jokes on him. Their relationship changes when the girl who has a crush on Miles throws a party, and he refuses to attend unless she invites Alex. Alex ends up having an episode and Miles figures out that she has schizophrenia. In turn, he tells her about his mother, who is locked inside an asylum. They are completely untraditional and very cute.

Unfortunately, and there always has to be an unfortunately, Alex's illness catches up with her. Her classmates find out about it. Miles, desperate for money, starts to take humiliating jobs. Everything spirals out of control. The ending was a little sad, but also not. I don't know how to explain it better, you'd just have to read it.   

I was a huge fan of Made You Up. I completely love Alex, who was flawed but totally awesome and funny. Her mental illness makes her unreliable as a narrator, but also really interesting as a character. She understands when she is being irrational, but she also still has moments where she has to check her food for Communist chips. It was an interesting experience to see the world from Alex's perspective, and very scary to think of having to live like that and not being able to control it. As we find out, not being able to tell the difference between imagination and reality can hurt you. I highly recommend this amazing book.  

I received my copy of Made You Up from Edelweiss, courtesy of Greenwillow Books. It's available for purchase now.

1 comment:

  1. I stopped to tell you that I want to go to Target today. Also, I was born in Ohio.