“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.” ― 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.
This is the first book that I’ve actually finished in 2018 and let me just say, I couldn’t have chosen a better book.
Zappia is such a brilliant writer when it comes to painting a picture of mental illness for those that haven’t experienced it. In this case, she brings to life Alex Ridgemont, a high school senior that was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic when she was just eight years old.
What is so brilliant about this novel is that the lines between fantasy and reality blur for our main character, who also happens to be our point of view. From simple things like seeing squirrels in strange situations to believing the city librarian is disseminating communist propaganda, Alex’s point of view pulls the reader in and makes them believe what she sees.
And what she sees or hears is not always accurate. The point of view leaves you questioning whether what Alex is experiencing or seeing is real for every little detail. Anytime a character gives a strange look or responds in a strange way, I was left questioning is it was all made up.
Even more, Zappia’s quirky characters are the ones you want to root for. They’re the teenagers that are misfits, but still fit in with the social norms of a typical high school.
Zappia builds an entire community that manages to follow suit with a real life high school, but also takes on the drama of a truly interesting novel. It probably helps that she wrote this book when she was in high school and continued to rewrite it until publication.
Honestly, I didn’t know it was possible, but I’m quite certain that Made You Up has managed to surpass Eliza and Her Monsters as my favorite Zappia novel. No doubt, five stars.
Have you read any of Francesca Zappia’s books? What did you think?