I heard of this author actually because of Eliza and her Monsters, but was excited to see that she wrote a book about schizophrenia, so I was curious to see how she portrayed mental illness.
Title: Made You Up
Author: Francesca Zappia
Rating: 3/5 stars
This book follows Alex, who is a girl in high school that copes with schizophrenia. She deals with all of the ‘normal’ things that high schoolers deal with as well as her mental illness. Her parents are very much supportive of her and try to protect her as best they can. But, nobody really anticipated a character like Miles to come into the mix.
My main concern with books that focus around mental illness is always that they are going to portray it in a negative way and make it seem like it is way more dramatic than it is. Studying mental health counseling, it really upsets me when this happens, as it scares those affected most of all. But this book did not do that: it was actually a pretty accurate portrayal and it didn’t glamorize things to be extremely dramatic or over the top. I appreciated when Alex would ask her Magic 8 ball questions when she was trying to figure out if something was real or going to happen and it made her seem relatable. Not that everyone who has schizophrenia does this, but it was kind of her own ‘check’ of reality, or at least that is how I saw it. I also think that in addition to portraying mental illness correctly, it also showed when people threw mental illness around as if it wasn’t serious. For example, (THIS IS A SPOILER) Miles’ mom was put into a mental facility because of something his father did. It wasn’t her fault at all. But she was labeled as ‘crazy’ and ‘suicidal’, so that is what happened. I hate labels such as those: it makes society believe that those who have mental illness are all dangerous or violent. That isn’t true, it’s actually the opposite. For many mental illnesses (anxiety, as I can speak from experience), you mainly bother yourself and it is a war within your own head, not something that makes you act out in violent ways. I also think the cover in itself is super powerful and shows a girl who is shielding herself from the darkness that wants to overtake her.
I wasn’t sold on how this book was written, aka the writing style. I have another book by this author on my TBR but I am going to give that a chance. I felt like it was very slow and calculated, which works in some instances but didn’t work for me here. I also thought that I needed some more expansion to show what those who are schizophrenic really experience. They had the ‘voices in her head’ thing, but that is not all they experience. I needed it to be a little bit more real and show the aspects of mental illness that people don’t talk about or don’t know about, frankly. There are different types of schizophrenia as well and I couldn’t put that strong of a label on her experience because it wasn’t expanded on enough. I have to say that the author did show what happens when someone who is schizophrenic goes off of her meds and how the side effects can really be like a wave hitting you.
I would suggest this book to those who would like to learn about schizophrenia or those who want to see what this author’s writing style is like. It was a nicely told story and it wasn’t very heavy, so I appreciated that too
Happy reading! ~ Taylor