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Made You Up: A review

I read Made You Up! It’s a fascinating look at mental illness as well as a enjoyable read. Basically you should read it because pythons if nothing else.

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 author is going to be in the back of every library. But she’s worth seeking out. I really enjoyed this book and found the story both appealing and compassionate and empathetic. I did think that the romance wasn’t really necessary and some of the highschool antics were absolutely unbelievable (but maybe she made them up) and I didn’t really like the ending apart from the epilogue. But other than that the really well written characters and the unreliable narrator aspect and a really good depiction of how I understand mental illness to be made this book a worthwhile read.
I like Alex. She doesn’t know what is real all the time and has bright red hair, but she refuses to be defined by her illness. She gets on as best as she can with the resources which she has regardless of whether they’re real or not. I really liked her relationship with Charlie. I liked how Charlie would always support her and brought out her softer side.  I also liked her relationships with Tucker and Theo. The banter and humor, as well as the honesty and fun that these relationships provide is great. They were very realistically written. Alex’s fears, especially of being committed made a lot of sense. I liked that she ended up making that choice on her own Her relationship with Miles and their lobster history was interesting to read about and they had a great dynamic between them. I liked that they didn’t have sex when they could have, and he stood up for her and vice versa, and the scoreboard ending
Alex doesn’t always know what’s real. As a reader I was aware of it (which made some twists pertaining to the title more obvious) but it also made for a great plot. Think ordinary highschool, except with more lobsters snakes and conspiracy plots. There were actually elements of mystery which was also fun. And of course parties and stuff. The lines where reality and Alex’s hallucinations bled into each other was perfectly blurry. And the voices in the head were also well written.
I recently read Challenger Deep which was a very different depiction of schizophrenia, but equally powerful. From my limited knowledge of the disease, it was written very well. And honestly, though I think that audio hallucinations are much more common. Alex’s determination to get into college was a good driving factor- Though why wasn’t she more upset when she didn’t get in?-and it gave her a focus which stopped her from becoming too depressed. And it’s books like these that can gradually begin to easy the stigma associated with mental illness, that can end the misunderstanding that drives people like Celia to do horrible things.
Made You Up was good. I had a few quibbles, but overall I thoroughly recommend this book if you want a well written and enjoyable book about how mental illness makes you who you are but doesn’t change anything else.

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6 thoughts on “Made You Up: A review

  1. I’ve read nothing but great things about this book (with special mentions on the unreliable character and the great depiction of schizophrenia). Your review greatly backs up everything I’ve read. I really need to pick this book up! Great review! 🙂

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