BOOK REVIEW: Made You Up by Francesca ZappiaMade You Up by Francesca Zappia
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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.


“You’re Jetta.”
He shook his head.
I frowned. “Theo?”
“Well if you’re not either of them, you’d have to be me.”
He blinked.
“It’s me?” I said.
“I couldn’t think of anyone else,” he said.

So….to keep pace with my current obsession of flawed and/or tortured characters and unreliable narrators, I just had to read this. I can’t even begin to imagine living in a world where I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. It’s just unfathomable, to me. To look on my desk and see a spider, only to immediately think, ‘Wait wait wait…is this an actual spider…or am I just imagining it?’ That would surely be the end of me. But just ponder this: Nothing is certain, no one is guaranteed to be real, and you might never know if what you’re seeing is actually truly happening. How terrifying is that?

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?

Now, this really wasn’t what I was expecting. But then, I don’t know what I was expecting. I have both strong and lukewarm feelings for this one. Let me explain: The characters were so addicting. I couldn’t get enough of mean old [tortured] Miles and poor Alex. I knew from the moment these two met that I was hooked. He was surly as shit, and she wasn’t going to take his crap like everyone else in the school. And this is what drove me forward from the very beginning. But then on the other hand…for some odd reason that I can’t explain, the story just felt so unrealistic to me. Which makes no sense! Of course it didn’t!! We are following an unreliable narrator and we don’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

“Alex. Wait.”
I turned back. It was the first time he’d said my name. He held a hand out. “Well played,” he said.
Oh no. No, we were not doing this. I hadn’t spent ten minutes gluing his locker shut just to admit it to him. So I arched my own eyebrow and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The corners of his lips twisted up right before I walked away.

But I don’t even think it’s that. Maybe it’s their high school life. But when have I ever picked up a book and said-‘This is so unbelievable.’ Never. I never have. Unless the cheese is through the roof and I can’t believe a girl could be so stupid, I never say that. No amount of dystopian or fantasy or paranormal could make me say that….So why did this book make me wonder things I never have? And that’s where my lack of that last .5 or full star comes from. I can’t decide if I liked the surreal feel of the story…or disliked it.

“You’re going to go up there”-he pointed at the empty bleachers-“and shut up.”
Was there some kind of law about drop-kicking assholes in the face? Probably. They always had laws against things that really needed to be done.

Not often do I say less is more, but due to lack of time and the fact that this story is based on belief of what’s real and not real, I think I need to stick by that thought. I fell inexplicably hard for the male lead, Miles, and I think that stems from my current obsession of ‘tortured boys with ‘tude problems.’ There wasn’t one minute where I wasn’t begging for more of him, just so I could get to the core of why he was just. So. Mean. I wanted and needed to know what made him tic and, most importantly, I needed to see more of his anger-riddled jealousy. Ah yes, Miles dear got extremely jealous on more than one occasion-Though, he’d never admit it. And I have to say-I loved the confused look on his face all the time. It was adorable. And the eyebrow raise!! And lastly-I loved how he always stood up for Alex, even if it didn’t look like he was. How he always was there for her and respected her (in his own way, okay) and took care of her. I loved it. He was a mean shit…but he had reasons. You’ll have to read to know anything more than that.

I really needed Finnegan’s Magic 8 Ball. But I could guess what kind of answer it would give me. Ask again later. So freaking noncommittal.

So, that is all. Still not a short review, by any means, but not near as long as they’ve been running lately, it seems. I think this book will touch many people because it’s not an easy topic to write about, nor is it an easy book to find written well. And that’s what this was-an excellently written story with deep characters and a meaningful story-line. I will be suggesting it to many, and I can’t wait to come back someday and re-read this with an open mind and knowing what is real…and what isn’t.

I don’t want you.
I don’t need you.
I don’t love you.


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