Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

published on May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
young adult | contemporary | romance | mental health

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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.


One of my most anticipated reads of the year, Made You Up certainly delivered. While I wish there was a tad less focus on the romantic aspect of the story, I can’t deny that it is a humorous and well-written tale with a protagonist you can’t help buy sympathize with.

Made You Up is the compelling story of high school senior Alex, who suffers from schizophrenia. Because of her condition, she has been homeschooled her entire life – until now…

Alex is a completely relatable character. The one thing she wants in life is normalcy, but with her condition that’s almost out of the question. (And, really, isn’t that something all teenagers want – to simply blend in with your peers?) As she begins her first year of public school, she finds herself falling in love, making friends, attending parties – and for each of those accomplishments, you can’t help but feel proud of her for coming so far.

I went into this expecting a unique look on what life is like for a teenager with schizophrenia and how the condition impacts her on a daily basis, but the reality of the story is completely different – it has a much more romance-based premise than I would have personally preferred. Not that I found that to be a huge problem (being YA, an overload of romance is virtually unavoidable), but I can’t help but wonder if I would have liked this a bit more if it was less focused on the romance and more focused on the psychological aspect.

The romance between Alex and the love interest Miles is not your typical romance. In fact, the two start out loathing each other, and slowly that turns into companionship. However, I could never truly see the chemistry between them. All I could think of when the two of them interacted is what a jerk Miles was to Alex in their first few interactions; and I struggled to see all of the great qualities Alex saw in him.

Having schizophrenia, Alex has constant delusions. We’re aware at the beginning of the story that one or more of the characters here are delusions on her part, but I found the revelation of who exactly those characters are to be a bit predictable, which was a bit disappointing because it could have been such a completely shocking twist.

2015 seems to be the year of “teen issues,” and Made You Up certainly delivers. It is a story filled with romance, delusions, and humor that I’d recommend to those who found themselves adoring All the Bright Places or My Heart and Other Black Holes.

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Have you ever read a book where you felt the romance overpowered the plot?

About Zoe

Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.

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19 thoughts on “Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

  1. I’m still debating on whether or not I want to read this. On one hand it sounds like my type of book, but for some reason I’m hesitant. I’m not sure how I would feel about the romance either :/


  2. Ooh I actually did an interview with the author of this book. I haven’t read the book but as a I am huge fan of romance, I may enjoy the romance in this. It sounds so peculiar but in a good way. And I just adore that cover :)


  3. I like the idea that the main character have schizophrenia, I’ve noticed that most of the time, the illness is tackled quite negatively… Like antagonists suffering from it, etc. I can understand your disappointment that it mostly focused on the romance though but having a first hand look in regards with the illness is interesting enough for me that I’ll definitely check this out. Awesome review Zoe! :)


  4. I red this book recently, I did like the way the author tackles the issue of mental illness. It’s great there is more awareness on it although, I do agree that the romance took away from this book. It should have been a minor one if it was nesscary. Great review overall! You make excellent points.


  5. I. LOVE. This. Book. I do. Everything about it. I think I have been reading SO many mental health books, that I kind of liked that it wasn’t totally focused on the psychological stuff, and that it showed that Alex could still have a life and a boyfriend and such. And I agree with you- I knew what the twist would be from very early on, BUT I still really loved the book. Glad you enjoyed it too, great review :)


  6. I’m really, really looking forward to this book. and while i see that you’re having issues with the romance, I still want to try it.. and for some reasons I’m kind of interested to see this jerk guy, somehow I’d like to see how their relationship goes myself starting as loathing each other. Great review :)


  7. To be honest I hadn’t actually heard of this one until now! But the title DOES sound familiar, so maybe I’ve heard of it in passing or something. I love the way this sounds, though. I can see why it focusing less on the romance would have been better, though. I love love love romance but in a novel like this it sounds like it really would have benefited more from the psychological issues. Lovely review, Zoe. :)


  8. I seriously LOVE the cover! I have a thing for watercolor designs haha.

    Moving on. I definitely want to read this next because I really have a thing for books that tackle psychological issues because it really represents reality in a clearer picture. Schizophrenia is such a serious issue, and like you, I already can’t help but feel sorry. But I’m a little disappointed to see that the romance was more focused than the psychological aspect itself :( i hate it when that happens.

    Anyway, I’m still going to want to read this and look for it myself! I’ll be adding it to my TBR in Goodreads hehe :> BEAUTIFUL REVIEW!!!


  9. I’m about halfway through this one and I’m happy with it so far, I hope they romance doesn’t get anymore overwhelming than it already is but it sounds like that won’t be the case. I am really liking the psychological aspects but like you said, I wish it was focused on more.


  10. I have to say the concept of this book seems very interesting. I always enjoy books that have unreliable narrators too, so that’s a point towards Made You Up. That being said, shallow insta-love and a very clear agenda of the author to dissuade pre-marital sex does turn me off this book. The cover is pretty beautiful though the concept is interesting, so there is a vague chance that I may try this book out. Thanks for the review.


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