Last week I read ‘Made You Up’ by Francesca Zappia and enjoyed it very much. This novel was insightful for me to read, mostly due to it’s subject content on the subject of Paranoid Schizophrenia. This was the first novel I read where the main character struggled with this particular mental illness, so I didn’t really know what to expect. While I personally don’t know the full extent of Schizophrenia, nor do I know anyone who has it, I applaud the author, Francesca Zappia, who does not have Schizophrenia, but really did her research on what Schizophrenia and is and writing about character that is living through it, and not writing from preconceived notions or what the media and society present to the public.
First I’ll say that this book hit me with the feelings. There were twists, that weren’t crazy or BAM! kind of twists, but the kind of twists where you think to yourself; “Oh wow, I was NOT expecting that!” or “This went down a completely different path than I thought it was going to go, but I can see now that this path makes more sense.” The novel was romantic, but not in a cheesy or trope-y mental-illness-love-story-way. The romance was sweet and thoughtful.
Our main character is Alexandra Ridgemont. Alex is a seventeen year old in high school who is starting her senior year in a new school. Alex suffers from Schizophrenia and has a difficult time differentiating what is reality and what is her imagination. Alex likes to take pictures of things she isn’t sure are real so she can further understand the difference between the two. Alex is pretty optimistic considering her circumstances. Alex doesn’t let her mental illness define her.
Alex is smart and with an almost carefree attitude. She knows she is schizophrenic, but she doesn’t wallow in that fact. She accepts it. Alex does have trouble telling others, and tries to keep it a secret. Although a few events that unfold in the novel prevent that from happening. From the beginning of the novel, we see that Alex doesn’t have a lot of friends, but she soon see Alex meet a particular group of people in a club Alex is mandated to join, and we see her doing regular teenage girl things, like going out with on a Friday night, going to parties, and even falling in love.
Alex meets this boy named Miles who at first, she can’t stand. Miles is known as the school know-it-all and prankster. The reasoning behind this is both very sweet, but also very sad. The thing that keeps Alex thinking about and even running into Miles repeatedly, is the fact that Alex is sure she’s seen him before. He reminds her of a boy she met once before, whom she nicknamed “Blue Eyes”. The problem is that Alex isn’t sure if “Blue Eyes” was even real to begin with. Alex isn’t sure if a lot of things she once believed were real, ever were. And this is what we come to find out throughout the novel. Piecing each part together to better understand who Alex is and what she is not, crazy.
I don’t want to give away too much about this book because it’s so good and I really recommend it to anyone who deals with a mental illness of any kind. It’s so easy to feel like you’re alone sometimes, but the great thing about books is that within them, you can discover characters that are just like you and it’s like finding a new friend.