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Real Or Not Real?

Francesca Zappia’s debut novel Made You Up features a main character who struggles with paranoid delusions and schizophrenia—and has a predisposition for some serious sass.

Real Or Not Real?

BOOK REPORT for Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Cover Story: High School Art
BFF Charm: Heck Yes
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
Talky Talk: In Her Head
Bonus Factors: Enemistry, Humor
Relationship Status: Ready for a Second Date

Cover Story: High School Art

Now, don’t get me wrong. High school art projects can result in art that’s just as good, if not better, than pieces that you might find in a museum. This cover just really reminds me of something my very artsy best friend in high school would have created.

The Deal:

Alex has had delusions her entire life, but it wasn’t until she was seven that she found out that much of what she thought was real was, in fact, completely in her head. For the following decade, off and on medication and therapy, Alex has coped with her diagnosis of schizophrenia. And she’s determined to live a normal life, or at least as normal as a person with her illness can: She’s finishing up her senior year in high school, holding a part time job, and trying to make actual friends.

But high school is hard enough when you can tell if the person next to you is really there; it’s verging on impossible when you can’t.

BFF Charm: Heck Yes

For someone with an illness that some might find debilitating, Alex remains a strong, funny, and self-aware individual. She’s living with her schizophrenia as best as she can, and even when she isn’t sure what’s real or not, she’s not willing to let her illness rule her. She’s got a fantastic wit, and would be extremely fun to hang around with. Plus, I’d totally be willing to help her distinguish fact and fiction (and I’d try really hard not to make it weird).

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Although Alex struggles with interpersonal relationships, she isn’t afraid to make connections when she feels like she can trust someone … or when they sneak up on her, like the romantic one in Made You Up. The dynamic of said relationship is slow-burning, but believable. Besides, I prefer having to wait a little rather than being force-fed instalove any day.

Talky Talk: In Her Head

I don’t know from personal experience, but reading Made You Up convinced me (as much as I wasn’t already convinced) that it can be awfully difficult living with schizophrenia. But reading about Alex (and from Alex’s POV) in particular—a character that felt completely fleshed out and real from almost the first page—gave the disorder a humanity that is sometimes lacking in depictions of people with mental illness. And though Made You Up is a book in which the main character is someone with schizophrenia, never is the illness the main focus of the story. Instead, Francesca Zappia wrote a book about a unique young woman who just happens to be a little different from the norm. The rest of Zappia’s characters are equally interesting, even the “standard” ones you find in most high school stories (the mean girl, the jock, etc.).

Bonus Factor: Enemistry

In some books, it’s obvious from the very start how a relationship built on enemistry will evolve, but Zappia builds this particular one carefully, and it’s never as clear cut as you might assume in the beginning.

Bonus Factor: Humor

Made You Up could have been an extremely heavy book. Instead, it’s a light-hearted story with moments of seriousness. More than once, I laughed out loud while reading, and even forced my family to listen to some particularly hilarious gems. (They’re welcome.)

Casting Call:

Annalise Basso as Alex

Relationship Status: Ready for a Second Date

I enjoyed our time together, Book, so much more than I thought I would. I do think that you need to get the help you need, but I am more than willing to offer up my assistance in any way that you need to keep our relationship going.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Greenwillow Books, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Made You Up is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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