C.G. Drews's Reviews > Made You Up

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
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it was amazing
bookshelves: autism, best-of-2015, 5-star, contemporary, mental-illness, read-2015, young-adult

I AM SO TOALLY OVERCOME WITH EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW. AGH. How do I even...what do I say?! How?! GAHLKJ FJAKSLDS GHARRRHRH. *ahem* I quite liked this book. It was confusing at times and I guessed many of the plot twists, but somehow I was so totally caught up that the 400-pages just flipped by in a flash and I wanted more, but I also wanted to cry, but I also wanted to rage. So basically YEAH ALL THE EMOTIONS. IT WAS REALLY GOOD. I FEEL LIKE I JUST GOT STABBED IN THE FACE.

So it's about schizophrenia, but written in a way I've never experienced. I've read Challenger Deep and Alice and the Fly, which both painted the utter confusion of delusions so vividly and were both incredible books to read and I could literally feel what it'd be like to drown in hallucinations. But Made You Up?! IT WAS DIFFERENT. We say Alex as a "normal" person. She said funny things, she had average hopes/dreams, she had normal hobbies, she did chores and held down a job, rode a bike, and took heaps of photos. She was a history nerd. And...she had paranoid schizophrenia. But it wasn't WHO she was. Like I felt there was more to Alex than her mental illness, and I appreciated that 10000%. This book really helped me to understand MORE about schizophrenia and labels and just aGHHHHH SEE THIS IS WHY I LOVE IT SO MUCH?!? I loved Alex. I connected to her, I rooted for her.

There's also epic secondary characters that were excellently written and developed. Alex is going to this new school (she got kicked out of her last) and so she meets a motley crew, but notably: Tucker and Miles. DON'T WORRY! THERE'S NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Tucker is a really cool, sweet dude and I liked his easy-going friendship with Alex (YAY FOR PLATONIC FRIENDSHIPS)

But Miles?!? Miles is complex. He's German and skinny and a genius and horrible and cruel and unempathetic and has GORGEOUS BLUE EYES and has heart-shattering secrets and afdjsaklda I love Miles. I love him a lot. I do get why he'd be hated by a lot of readers though, but the important thing to realise here is there's a huge chance (though not directly confirmed) that Miles is autistic. So please don't expect him to be neurotypical, because he's not and as an Autistic person, he's SO EXCELLENTLY WRITTEN I COULD CRY. And he's a genius, like he's just a fountain of EXTREME GENIUS. I totally loved his development and the way his and Alex's relationship when from mean pranks to goopy adorable entirely shippable romance. #bestromanceever

"I mean that when I'm the one doing everyone else's dirty work, and everyone is afraid of me, I feel safe. I control what happens and to who." (pg. 219)

(Very Autistic thinking there.)
"Heaven knows the boy already seems a little...emotionally stunted. I'm half convinced he's autistic."
"So what if he is?"
She blinked at me. "What?"
"So what if Miles is autistic? And he's not 'emotionally stunted' -- he has emotions like the rest of us. he just has trouble figuring out what they are, sometimes." (pg. 271)

(FYI Autism IS NOT a mental illness, it's a disability.)

I loooooved and so APPRECIATE how this book tackled so many complex topics and treated them WELL and with total respect and impeccable research. Like, just wow and thank you to this author.

Unlike other schizophrenic books I've read, this one wasn't hard to follow. Like Challenger Deep totally wrapped my head in a taco and stomped on it -- but Made You Up just read like an average contemporary...with additions. It's also a bit of a "mystery" because there's something WEIRD going on at Alex's new school and she, Tucker, and Miles sort of get to the bottom of it. There's tons of mental illness and disability representation in ALL shapes and sizes.

OH OH! And I guessed one of the characters in Alex's life would probably be just a hallucination and OMG I WAS RIGHT ABOUT WHO I GUESSED. (view spoiler)

So there were a few things I didn't like. Some of the plot felt a bit..far fetched? I expected a ton of stuff to be "made up" but it wasn't, and, um...yeah?! Like how psycho their principal seemed to be with no one noticing, and the sub-plot around the snake, and how negligent (but loving) Alex's parents were, and how absolutely CRUEL the school was for no reason. And when Alex sneaked out of hospital? Eh, probably not. Also at one point Alex and Miles are returning from A Place I Won't Name and they stop to eat and, despite never eating out nay other time (she's paranoid about poison) Alex eats without an eye blink. Hmm.

BUT BASICALLY. ALL OVER? I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS MARVELLOUS BOOK. It's so so well written and I will be 1000% done to read anything and everything by this author. And I was actually literally choking on tears (they didn't spill, tho: I am Vulcan) and emotions and just all these super complex feelings. THIS BOOK JUST REALLY KNOTTED INTO MY SOUL AND I'LL NEVER FORGET IT.


"But - but what if this whole place" -- I had to suck in air again -- "what if everything is inside my head? East Shoal and Scarlet and this bridge and you -- what if your'e not real because nothing is real?"
"if nothing's real, then what does it matter?" he said. "You live here. Doesn't that make it real enough?" (pg. 364)

"No, you're not a bad person," [Tucker] said. "And Richter isn't a bad person, and I'm not a bad person. We're just people, and people sometimes do stupid things."
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Reading Progress

October 18, 2014 – Shelved
October 18, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
September 3, 2015 – Started Reading
September 3, 2015 –
page 160
35.71% "Ohoh this is super good and I'm learning a LOT about schizophrenia. It's very different to how it was portrayed in Challenger Deep. I NEED GOOGLE STUFF NOW."
September 3, 2015 –
page 215
47.99% "So I BET one of the characters is a hallucination...and I'm betting it's the little sister. Or the dad."
September 4, 2015 –
page 221
49.33% "My entirely educated opinion is that Miles is slightly autistic. He has SO MANY the signs (lack of empathy, need for control, amazing memory, confusion in social circumstances). So there we go."
September 4, 2015 –
page 306
September 4, 2015 – Shelved as: autism
September 4, 2015 – Shelved as: best-of-2015
September 4, 2015 – Shelved as: 5-star
September 4, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary
September 4, 2015 – Shelved as: mental-illness
September 4, 2015 – Shelved as: read-2015
September 4, 2015 – Shelved as: young-adult
September 4, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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message 1: by Carolina (new) - added it

Carolina So I'm DEFINETELY reading this now.

message 2: by ClaireEva (new) - added it

ClaireEva I'm sold. It sounds amazing !

anna I'm sold.


message 5: by Emma (new)

Emma Clifton Oooh this book sounds cool!!!! How is the romance/swearing?

C.G. Drews @Emma: What do you mean exactly? hehe Sorry! There is romance and swearing, I guess! :)

message 7: by Vanessa (new) - added it

Vanessa J. Yeah, I can see you quite liked it. ;) And hell yes complex characters! Also, I need to read both this and Challenger Deep soon.

C.G. Drews @Vane: BOTH total 5-stars for me! :D

Olivia-Savannah  Roach Loved this one so much! I am glad you could too :)

Katrina While I can see how Miles might be on the autism spectrum (and I'm not saying he isn't), the other possibility has to do with his giftedness... People with extremely high IQs often have social interaction problems. Enough so that they are often considered 'special needs' in schools. Either way, I fell in love with Miles too, and I loved how their relationship progressed from almost-enemies to a relationship :)

message 11: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Katrina: People with extremely high IQs are usually on the autistic spectrum. *shrugs* XD And it's true, maybe Miles wasn't, but I like to think he is. :)

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh damn I really want to read this after reading your review

The Hobbit You're review is awesome!!!!! I loved Alex and Miles. I'm currently rereading this book!!!!!

message 14: by Rowan (new)

Rowan Hey. I have schizophrenia and don't really feel like this is a book that a person could read and then know more about the illness...

message 15: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @SpectralLesbian: Oh, okay. Any chance you'd elaborate on why?

message 16: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Dragonfly: Interesting. I've heard the author researched very thoroughly on the topic.

message 17: by Bookiverse (new) - added it

Bookiverse La La also thought the same and gave it one star (because couldn't give it less!) apparently the author didn't even know anyone with schizophrenia when she wrote the book. I have experienced schizophrenia really closely so I'll be reading the book to see how far off it is (if it is)Less

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

wow, your reviews are really persuasive, now i want to read it!

message 19: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @Syd: I reeeeally like it so I hope you do!! :D

message 20: by Rowan (new)

Rowan Cait (Paper Fury) wrote: "@SpectralLesbian: Oh, okay. Any chance you'd elaborate on why?"

It might just be the irreverent tone of the narrative, but I felt like the mentions of Alex's hallucinations were flippant. But I could just be... paranoid? Lol.

It's just not an accurate representation of what the illness is like. I really feel like it was reduced to just "quirkyness." It totally ignores schizophrenia's negative symptoms like extreme apathy or emotional unresponsiveness, or the cognitive things like poor memory, poor executive function, poor attention span. These can be even more difficult to handle than hallucinations and delusions, as medications don't usually help with those symptoms.

But that's kind of par for the course, as most portrayals of schizophrenia in media focus on the hallucinations and delusions. I just don't know anyone else with schizophrenia who has such vivid hallucinations as Alex does without also having negative symptoms. So their absence was like... Disappointing. It is nice to see schizophrenia being portrayed as non-violent, at least!

Alex's diagnosis at age 7 is also really suspect. Child onset schizophrenia is very severe, and the cognitive issues with schizophrenia are far more present. Alex seems way too "high functioning" to have been diagnosed with COS.

To be fair, I didn't finish the book. I might potentially give it another shot. I just feel like schizophrenia is so complex. It's a spectrum, and the diagnosis is rather broad. I don't feel like an author who doesn't have any experience with schizophrenia could ever really write a depiction that was accurate :/

message 21: by C.G. (new) - rated it 5 stars

C.G. Drews @SpectralLesbian: Thanks for telling me all this! It makes sense and I really appreciate your opinion.

Emily // Mixed Margins @SpectralLesbian: I'm currently reading Alice and the Fly (also based on Cait's suggestion!) and was wondering if you've read that, and if so, if you feel it is a more accurate representation? I realize the illness is different for different people, it's definitely portrayed very differently than in Made You Up.

message 23: by Krista (new) - added it

Krista I need to add this to my "to Read" list

Rachel A. As someone who works with young adults who have autism, I have to say that I did not get the impression at all that Miles had it. He had a couple of signs (ie. hated being touched, and his statement that he has trouble understanding emotion), but I definitely did not see him as autistic at all.

message 25: by Nik (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nik Always fun reading your opinions on books, thanks for sharing. I thought the reason Alex was able to eat the food was because she felt so safe with Miles that she didn't feel the need to do a perimeter check or check for trackers and poisons.

Ronyell Awesome review Cait!!! I just loved this book to death!

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