Made You Up
★☆☆☆☆ (I didn’t like it.)
Please note that this review contains spoilers.
“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.”
I’m still looking for what I wanted from We’ll Never Be Apart (my review). This got a little closer, but we’re still a long way gone.
While I was reading it and not thinking too hard, this book wasn’t so bad. I sped through it because I wanted to get to the good parts, but once again, I felt like the good parts never quite arrived.
I originally gave this book three stars; I bumped it down to two. (Update: when I moved it over to Book 7, I dropped it to one.) The more I thought about it, the more things bugged me.
I won’t get into the wildly inaccurate portrayal of schizophrenia; Clementine’s review goes into some detail, and a perusal of one-star reviews will get you the gist. I don’t have a background in psychology and I don’t have any up close and personal experience with schizophrenia. Even so, I could tell something was way off – especially when just being around the love interest soothed her symptoms.
This idea that if you love a sick person enough, and they love you enough, they’ll just get better is, frankly, insulting (and very, very dangerous). You can’t love someone so much you cure their cancer. You can’t love someone so much you cure their schizophrenia.
(I had the same problem with Made You Up. Why is it always a boy and a cure, instead of your own self and learning to live with the reality of the situation and cope the best you can?)
I wish I knew more about Charlemagne. That could’ve been the whole plot, right there. At least, unlike Made You Up, it’s (sort of) explained how Alexandra “sees” her interacting with people – but it’s a mystery why her parents not only played along with this delusion/hallucination (it’s both/neither) but apparently encouraged it, setting a place for her at the table and buying her Christmas presents long after she died. I… what?
Oh, and the mom’s relationship with the therapist, and the therapist’s relationship with Alexandra? Woah. I saw a therapist for six(ish) years. My mother was sometimes involved with my treatment; probably with a schizophrenic patient, you’d need more family involvement for a minor.
Therapists are not your enemy. If you don’t like your particular therapist, hopefully you can find a new one. If your meds aren’t working, talk to your psychiatrist and adjust the dose or change the prescription. This is such a dangerous cliché. I didn’t see a therapist when I needed one (financial reasons) and, well, it almost ruined my life. See a therapist, kids!
As for the rest … Well, I originally left it out of my review because it was pretty forgettable. There were too many threads and none of them made any sense. Like Miles’s mom. She’s been stuck in a psychiatric hospital for eight years without her consent, and not having committed any crime, because her husband says she’s suicidal? What is this, 1950? Or Miles himself, struggling to readjust after living abroad. That could all be very interesting, but it just wasn’t. Or the McCoy and Celia subplot. Any of these things could have been a good book in their own right, but crammed into a single story and not fleshed out they just floundered. Less is more.
And why is the whole school crazy? It seemed like high school on a TV show, not real high school. At first I thought it was part of Alex’s illness, but apparently not.
Judging a Book by Its Cover
I love the design for this book. It’s what originally caught my eye before I got on this “mentally ill unreliable narrator” kick I’m in. It’s visually arresting, and we’ve got Alex’s red hair. I think a lobster would have been more intriguing, though.
It loses points for the flagrant misuse of Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song.”
Quick read, but I wanted more. Didn’t care much about the characters and the one I liked best turned out to be a hallucination all along. Once again, the interesting bits about what’s real or not get lost under a teenage love story, and the reality of mental illness is ignored in favor of stereotypes and what’s cool.