Publish date- 2015.
Publisher- Greenwillow Books.
(A Brief) Synopsis:
As Alex makes her way through another awful year of school, she has to combat more than distinguishing reality from the hallucinations that make her see snakes hanging from the roof of her classrooms. She has to navigate friendships, and trust, and fear. Also terrible teachers.
What I thought:
It could be said that I am a fantasy dweller, and when I come out of my genre-built home it is infrequently and usually with lingering disappointment because what a mistake. Contemporary remains the trickiest genre for me to navigate, and also the one that produces the most dnfs- but sometimes, maybe two or three times a year, I will slip into the pages of a marvellous, captivating gem. And it's contemporary.
Made you up had all the potential, signs and hopefulness attached that made it seem like I was about to read my next stellar contemporary; the reviews were applauding it, and I read many reviews. Also, lobsters apparently featured. And people seemed to really like the lobsters.
When I started reading, I wasn't so sure. The initial childhood memory (feat. lobsters) was cute, but then I had to get to know Alex as a teenager and she was very different.
Luckily, I liked her a lot.
Alex is snarky, doesn't like people, and is fragile- a fact she buries beneath snark and her dislike for people. She has schizophrenia and the up front portrayl of this, showing that it was hard every moment, every hour, making us see and hear Alex navigate the hallucinations her mind throws at her, was so well done. It gave me a perspective and insight to scizophrenia that I was sorely lacking. Of course, every novel will be as different as every experience, but Made you up was genuinely well done. Well thought out, well portrayed, and it felt so very honest.
As for the characters besides Alex, they're a bit of a mixed bag; Alex's dad and sister I liked a lot, but her mother was almost on the uncaring side of pushy and her behaviour was incredibly frustrating; there was a school bully who was the "unnecessarily mean" character, and although she was ultimately important to the plot I didn't really understand how she and Alex hated each other so instantly, and why, particularly, they did; there was the longtime friend, who we drift away from and I never liked much, and the new friends, only Miles of whom we really got to know. I was hesitant to like him, what with Alex's immediate dislike and mistrust, and there's always that lingering doubt: as he becomes more important, Alex questions (and forces the reader to question) whether he's real or simply too good (and unpredictable) to be true.
Going in, I was a little concerned because I had read that Alex is an unreliable narrator because of her schizophrenia and hallucinations, and I always struggle with unreliable narrators. But it turned out that I never actually felt like she was unreliable; for the most part, distinguishing what was real and what was hallucination was relatively simple for Alex.
The plot, while unexpected and enthralling, was also a little bizarre. A part of me wondered whether the whole thing was a hallucination, as things stretched into the realm of almost far fetched, which certainly makes things difficult for Alex and the reader; overall I'm not sure how I feel about that aspect of the novel, but the rest of it I throughly enjoyed.
A stunning novel. I was emotional and amused and I liked Alex a lot; her growth and struggles were so clearly written and the whole story had such an element of raw truthfulness to it. I do think a. people judged Alex's hair far too much, and b. not enough lobsters, though.