Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Guest Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
First published in America by GreenWillow Books in May 2015.

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Guest review by Joy of Joyous Reads
Joy of the excellent Joyous Reads, one of my favourite book blogs, is a book-hoarder, a plant killer, and a recent lover of all things old. Her weekend is dedicated to thrifting, reading, and being a mother to a 15-year-old and a 10-year-old. A wife to the best (and worst) enabler. She wishes she can have a kitty or a puppy, but she could barely keep her children alive so....

Joy's rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. For fans of Silver Linings Playbook and Liar, this thought-provoking debut tells the story of Alex, a high school senior—and the ultimate unreliable narrator—unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion.
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out what is real and what is not. 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 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. Can she trust herself? Can we trust her?

Joy says: Reality is a scary master. That’s why some people resort to drugs because it’s easier to ignore its demands sometimes. But for some, reality is a different beast altogether. It becomes unreliable, frightening and deceiving. Such is the life of those suffering from schizophrenia.

Made You Up was a light-hearted, kind-hearted story about a teen suffering from this disorder. Her story is a bit of a ride. Because of Zappia’s compelling/very convincing writing, the reader will feel as if they are losing their minds along with her. Some would have a difficult time discerning what was real and what was a product of her “chemically-imbalanced” mind. Things, places, people become somewhat capricious. One particular person in her life left me with goosebumps once it was revealed they were not real at all. For a second, I thought I was reading a ghost story. And even after all that, she still keeps seeing this person.

You would never find a more unreliable narrator than Alex. Not because it’s a character flaw, but because it’s the nature of her disease. I don’t think I’ve read a book in YA tackling paranoid schizophrenia, but Zappia’s account is a great introduction, I thought. Alex describes every thing she sees and feels that the readers would know exactly what it’s like to go through life thinking she’s in constant peril. But she’s learning; she wants to live independently.

So she’s careful. She does everything to make sure that no one would ever know why she is the way she is (she sniffs her food for poison; she looks everywhere for bad guys lurking in the dark corners and alleys). She’s forever suspicious of people. And by taking pictures of things she thought to be a temporary product of her overactive imagination, she was able to detect what was real and what was not – on most good days, that is. I love the way Francesca created Alex. She’s so real; her disease is real. And yet somehow, there’s this whimsical persona that I just can’t help but love.

This book is an instant favourite of mine. ALL TIME favourite. You will cry. You will laugh. You will go, “holy shiiiite”. Basically, this book will put you through an entire list of feelings. But you will love this book. It was different, candid, heartbreaking, but hopeful. Very hopeful in a non-sappy way. You will adore the characters; you will smile at the sweetness of the romance between two characters who are so awkwardly perfect for each other. They are everything. This book is everything.

Thank you Joy!

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