Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Is it just another angsty high school drama? In some ways it is. The angsty high school drama is more peripheral and dragged down the story but it was necessary for Alex to get to where she needed to go by the end of the book. Alex is a new kind of protagonist. Neuroses has finally gotten attention and some acceptance in modern society as we have acknowledged eating disorders, OCD, and other anxiety disorders that meet the DSM criteria. Alex is in the psychotic column. She has schizophrenia.
As frightening as the diagnosis is, the author easily writes Alex into a regular teenage life. The book begins at the age of diagnosis and an incident in a grocery store with lobsters and a new friend. Two colors stand out in this chapter and throughout. The friend had dark blue eyes. Alex has red (not orange or auburn) hair. This is significant because ten years pass and Alex is starting a new high school for her senior year. She's been in treatment for her schizophrenia and paranoia, she has coping skills and mechanisms and has high hopes for this new experience. On the first day of school, she meets the very frightening boy that happens to have the same dark blue eyes of her hallucination from childhood. Was he a hallucination or was he real?
So Alex has a somewhat debilitating mental illness that has been managed via meds and therapy. She wants friends. She wants a normal life. She wants to keep her mental illness a secret. I enjoyed the interactions she had with Miles - the love/hate relationship, the quick comebacks, discovering his secrets, and the normalcy they have. As the story progresses, there are some interesting patterns that emerge. There are shades of "A Beautiful Mind" and, don't freak out but, "Sixth Sense" that were very well played. What is real and what is a hallucination? In a high school setting, you can see how this question would be problematic. It's weird, anyway.
The book builds up and I quite enjoyed the revelations of what was real and what was not. To a point. Weird as high school is, it went a little over the top and that part wasn't a hallucination. The ending was a good wrapping up of loose ends and satisfying.