When you are reading a book where the main character is the first person narrator, and this person tells you from the beginning that they are schizophrenic, it follows that you are going to have quite a time trying to discern if what this narrator is telling you is real or not. But that’s exactly what you get upon starting Made You Up; Alex herself tells you she’s crazy, and even her medications aren’t helping. Still, she is determined to finish out her senior year at a new high school.
Alex starts out the year with a single friend, and even he doesn’t know her secret. Though it’s something she struggles with everyday, Alex doesn’t need the entire student body knowing about her mental illness. And from what she’s seen of her conniving classmates, once they find something to latch onto about you, they never let go.
No one knows the truth of this more than Miles Richter. When Alex comes face to face with him at school, she realizes he may or may not be the boy she remembers from a very important moment in her young life. But his standoffish demeanor and nasty attitude make Alex want to stay as far away from him as possible. Until she is forced to spend time with him, and learns some hard truths.
As I said, the most interesting part of this book is knowing that the things you read may not in fact be happening. As you get to know Alex throughout the story you come to feel for her, and it’s not exactly pity. You know that some things she talks about cannot be real (men in suits standing on the roof of her school), but others she talks about so passionately, it absolutely guts you when you find out they are not. There is one particularly crushing moment like this towards the end.
Alex and Miles both have their deep seated issues, and as a result their romance is slow to start. But to me, once they got fully involved with one another, it was very sweet and worth the wait. Knowing that they both had to get past so much within their own minds just to let the other get close makes the romance very fulfilling for the reader.
Although this may seem like just another teen romance novel, it’s far more than that. Made You Up deals with mental illness in a very raw way, and recognizes that a person may need more help than they ever thought to move forward in their life. There are some things in the book I still can’t be sure were real, and that’s OK. The author does a great job of challenging the reader’s perception of reality, and that is the major reason this book is a success.
Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Greenwillow Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.