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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.
“My throat tightened and my heart swelled painfully in my chest. Please don’t let this be a delusion. Please let this be real.”
As long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by schizophrenia, and mental illness, for that matter. Although I’ve been unable to explain why for years, more that I think about it, more it seems to me that what attracts me so much is the fact that people apprehend and see the world differently, through the lens of their own perception. Perception that they can never really accept as the reality, because in the end, they know appearances can be fundamentally deceptive.
Perception. What an untrustworthy trick. Indeed in my opinion – all healthy as we are – we don’t challenge enough what we see, despite the fact that many experiences show us that we can’t trust our eyes more often than not, because our mind overanalyzes everything and shapes what we see to agree with our expectations.
Anyway, Alex isn’t given any choice in the matter : she can’t trust herself. She can’t trust her own deceitful perception. She can’t trust anything, and as followers of the wanderings of her mind, neither can we. Talk about an amazing unreliable narrator.
How to live when you can never trust anything you see? How to trust others? How to trust ourselves? Can we, really?
“Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?
Would I even be myself?”
Made you Up belongs to my favorite kind of contemporary : those which make you think and question everything, those which purposefully lose you, those which rely more on a psychological level than are action-packed. So, no, don’t expect never-ending action. Don’t expect astounding settings. But be ready to be captivated from the start, to be hooked. To
care. Be ready to eat these words up. As for me, I can’t hide that I was delighted by the writing style, because if the sentences can appear to be pretty simple, I often felt suffocated by the feelings oozing from the pages – Despair. Hope. Happiness. Heartbreak. Doubt. So much doubt.
I trusted nothing. I loved everything.
Truth be told, the characters made me so damn happy, I can’t even. Why? Because they’re two flawed and unlikeable teenagers, who both have to deal with the wanderings of their minds, their extreme nerdness, and getting to know them was INCREDIBLE.
The story is told in the refreshing and unique voice of Alex, who’s suffered from schizophrenia and paranoia since her early childhood. What she perceives can be tricky, because she always has to keep the possibility of hallucinations in the corner of her head. Therefore she takes pictures and uses them for a reality check. A lot of them. Not to mention the Nazis, the communists, in a word, all these enemies she can’t help but see everywhere. What’s amazing is the fact that sometimes you forget that Alex suffers from schizophrenia and paranoia and suddenly she thinks stuff like “I’m not going to eat this you know. Because poison” and yes, it takes you by surprise, making you both laugh and cringe (of course that’s possible, duh). Although she’s rather bitchy more often than not, I loved her because 1)I am a sucker for both unreliable and flawed characters and 2)She always tries to see the better in everyone. Indeed – and that’s so rare! – she questions people’s reasons to act the way they do, and where she could have been judgmental, she prefers to give others the benefit of the doubt.
As for Miles, where do I even start? Well, he’s a smart-ass asshole. But not the controlling kind. Nope. Sure he’s very driven and his inability to always understand people’s emotions makes him appear quite the jerk sometimes, but in the end, what do we have? A complex, lonely, heartbreaking boy who needs to protect those he loves, and who rules over a whole hidden world in his head. Hidden world that I was eager to unravel, and – Oh, hell. He maddened me, broke my heart and made me choke on butterflies.
“Dear Asshole : Thank you for keeping your word and believing me. It was more than I expected. Also, I’m sorry you were inconvenienced by my gluing your locker shut at the beginning of this year. However, I am not sorry that I did it, because it was a lot of fun.”
Moreover, let me tell you that I absolutely adored their interactions and the pranks they set up to each other. Oh, yes, didn’t I say that? Miles is the King of pranks. For real. Trust me. Anyway, listening to them was often hilarious and always interesting. I know, I’m such a fangirl right now.
Finally – drum roll pleaaaaaase – there is no insta-love at all, and no love triangle, but two characters who fall for each other gradually, in a believable way.
To sum up, here’s one of the best contemporary YA I read this year, if not the best. Just give these flawed characters a chance, okay?