Alex (named after Alexander the Great) is a senior starting at a new school, East Shoal High School. After writing “Communist” on the floor of her old high school’s gym in red paint it was time to move on. The problem with Alex is that she doesn’t necessarily know what is real and what is imaginary.
For instance, she remembers when she was seven that she let the lobsters out of the tank at the local supermarket. She also remembers an accomplice, a blue-eyed boy her age who held her up to the tank. However, when her mother caught up to her, the accomplice was gone. Was it a figment of her imagination or reality?
Imagine Alex’s concern when, on her first day of senior year, she sees someone who is the spitting image of her accomplice, just ten years older. The same intense blue eyes.
Alex is forced to do community service for the prior year’s infraction. This entails working in the East Shoal Recreational Athletics Support Club, getting the gym ready for after school sports, directly with Mr. Blue Eyes (Miles)…who, by the way, is not meeting her idealized vision.
In Made You Up, Francesca Zappia makes it quite clear that Alex hallucinates. However, she also makes it quite clear that the “normal kids” are equally dysfunctional in their own unique ways. Everyone has something to hide including Miles, Alex and her parents, students and teachers. I’ll be quite honest…there were times that I didn’t know what was real and what was imaginary.
I had a friend in high school who thought that life is inside a person’s head. In other words, nothing else existed. A person’s entire life was in his imagination; it’s just you living inside your head. Everything that happens, you imagine. All your friends, you imagine. Made You Up feels like it is playing out that scenario…everything that happens is in Alex’s imagination. Scary thought, huh?
The plot is a little (or maybe a lot) off kilter…not believable. But I enjoyed the book because of the characters. Alex, Miles and the entire after school club are good characters. And the bad characters are truly bad.
Made You Up is an interesting spin on schizophrenia. Are you really reading it or are you imagining that you’re reading it?