Review Blog

Jan 16 2017

Made you up by Francesca Zappia

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Greenwillow Books, 2015. ISBN 9780062670328
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Mental illness (Schizophrenia). High school. Friendship. Relationships. YA books can deal with tough issues, Made you up addresses the difficult world of schizophrenia. In this book Alex deals with the struggle of working out what is real, and what can't be trusted. Is everything in her life a true representation, or is it the result of a hallucination storm that glides into her reality creating a slippery slope of uncertainty? You can't help but like Alex as she battles to control her delusions and her reality, and her relationships with her new classmates after being forced to change schools. Into this new uncertainty, changing schools is always difficult, come friends Tucker and Miles, two young men who are incredibly accepting as Alex negotiates her mental illness roller coaster. As readers we are given Alex's view of the world and understanding her struggles to keep everything in place creates empathy for those who have to live with a mental illness. The complexities of school life, romance, family dynamics, dealing with psychological support and medication weave in and out of this dramatic tale, and Zappia has also knitted in other mental illness manifestations among the narrative. This just adds to the drama!
Zappia has written a great book to add to the YA library of books dealing with Big Issues. The mental illness aspects are also represented through the conversations with the Magic 8-ball scattered amongst the chapters, and although this sounds eccentric, it helps us understand Alex's distress as she deals with life in all its manifestations. The author has cleverly created tension leading to the final chapters, and because it is Alex's world we inhabit, there is work for the reader in making sense of the action. I was even led to research signs and symptoms of schizophrenia to make sure that I understood what was happening. The winners in this book though are the friends who accept Alex, despite her illness and the wonderful sense of normality that pervades even the most difficult of her symptoms.
Carolyn Hull

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