A Mango-Shaped Space: A Novel
A Mango-Shaped Space: A Novel

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Annotation: Afraid that she is crazy, thirteen-year-old Mia, who sees a special color with every letter, number, and sound, keeps this a secret until she becomes overwhelmed by school, changing relationships, and the loss of something important to her.
Catalog Number: #7642
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition Date: 2005
Pages: 221 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-05825-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-08469-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-05825-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-08469-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2002072989
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
This contemporary novel does for synesthesia what Terry Hesser's Kissing Doorknobs (1998) does for obsessive-compulsive disorder: the lively personal story demystifies a fascinating condition. For 13-year-old Mia Winchell, the world has always been filled with a wonderful, if sometimes dizzying, sensory onslaught--numbers, letters, words, and sounds all cause her to see a distinct array of colors. She keeps her unusual condition a secret until eighth grade, but then her color visions make math and Spanish impossibly confusing, and she must go to her parents and a doctor for help. However, this is more than a docu-novel. Mass beautifully integrates information about synesthesia with Mia's coming-of-age story, which includes her break with her best friend, her grief over her grandfather's death, and the loss of her beloved pet. The episode where Mia fabricates an illness to try out acupuncture for the color visions it produces is marvelously done, showing Mia's eagerness for new experiences even as it describes a synesthete's vision. References to a comprehensive Web site and bibliography about synesthesia are included.
Horn Book
Thirteen-year-old Mia has a secret: for as long as she can remember, letters and numbers have had colors for her, and sounds have had both colors and shapes. A neurologist finally tells her she has a harmless condition called synesthesia. Mass skillfully conveys Mia's emotions, and readers will be intrigued with this fictional depiction of an actual, and fascinating, condition.
Kirkus Reviews
A young teen whose world is filled with colors and shapes that no one else sees copes with the universal and competing drives to be unique and to be utterly and totally normal. Thirteen-year-old Mia is a synesthete: her brain connects her visual and auditory systems so that when she hears, or thinks about, sounds and words, they carry with them associated colors and shapes that fill the air about her. This is a boon in many ways—she excels in history because she can remember dates by their colors—and a curse. Ever since she realized her difference, she has concealed her ability, until algebra defeats her: "Normally an x is a shiny maroon color, like a ripe cherry. But here an x has to stand for an unknown number. But I can't make myself assign the x any other color than maroon, and there are no maroon-colored numbers. . . . I'm lost in shades of gray and want to scream in frustration." When Mia learns that she is not alone, she begins to explore the lore and community of synesthesia, a process that disrupts her relationships with her family, friends, and even herself. In her fiction debut for children, Mass has created a memorable protagonist whose colors enhance but do not define her dreamily artistic character. The present-tense narration lends immediacy and impact to Mia's color perceptions: "Each high-pitched meow sends Sunkist-orange coils dancing in front of me. . . . " The narrative, however, is rather overfull of details—a crazily built house, highly idiosyncratic family members, two boy interests, a beloved sick cat—which tend to compete for the reader's attention in much the same way as Mia's colors. This flaw (not unusual with first novels) aside, here is a quietly unusual and promising offering. (Fiction. 9-13)
Publishers Weekly

In an intriguing first novel, Mass introduces a 13-year-old heroine with an unusual perspective. Mia Winchell is a synesthete; her visual and hearing senses are connected so that numbers, letters, words, sounds and even some people's auras appear to her as colors. The letter "a," for instance, is the shade of a "faded sunflower," screeching chalk "makes red jagged lines in the air," and Mia's beloved cat, Mango, is surrounded by an orange cloud. Mia's unique view proves to be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, she enjoys having heightened senses ("If I couldn't use my colors, the world would seem so bland—like vanilla ice cream without the gummy bears on top," she says). On the other hand, sometimes it's hard for her being reminded that she is different, like when her brother, Zack, calls her "the Missing Link." Although the story line, at times, seems cluttered with underdeveloped subplots about Mia's friendships, potential romances and conflicts at school, the novel's premise is interesting enough to keep pages turning. The author successfully brings abstract ideas down to earth. Her well-defined characterizations, natural-sounding dialogue, and concrete imagery allow readers to feel Mia's emotions and see through her eyes a kaleidoscopic world, which is at once confusing and beautiful. Ages 10-13. (Apr.)

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Mia, 13, has always seen colors in sounds, numbers, and letters, a fact she has kept secret since the day she discovered that other people don't have this ability. Then she discovers that she has a rare condition called synesthesia, which means that the visual cortex in her brain is activated when she hears something. From then on, she leads a kind of double life-she eagerly attends research gatherings with other synesthetes and devours information about the condition, but continues to struggle at school, where her inadvertent pairing of particular colors with numbers and words makes math and French almost impossible to figure out. Her gradual abandonment of her frustrating school life in favor of the compelling world of fellow synesthetes and the unique things only they can experience seems quite logical, although readers may feel like shaking some sense into her. Finally, and rather abruptly, her extreme guilt at her beloved cat Mango's illness and death brings her back down to earth and she begins to work on some of the relationships she let crumble. Mia's voice is believable and her description of the vivid world she experiences, filled with slashes, blurs, and streaks of color, is fascinating. Not all of the many characters are necessary to the story, and some of the plot elements go unresolved, but Mia's unique way of experiencing the world is intriguing.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Word Count: 58,208
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 69677 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 770L
Guided Reading Level: V
Fountas & Pinnell: V

An award-winning book from the author of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life and The Candymakers for fans for of Wonder and Counting by Sevens.

Thirteen-year-old Mia Winchell is far from ordinary: she suffers from a rare condition called synesthesia, the mingling of perceptions whereby a person can see sounds, smell colors, or taste shapes. But because she has kept it a secret from everyone, she appears to be the most normal kid in her family. Her younger brother Zack keeps a chart of all the McDonald's hamburgers he's eaten in his lifetime. Her older sister Beth dyes her hair a different color every week and might be a witch.

When trouble in the school finally convinces Mia to reveal her secret, she feels like a freak; and as she embarks on an intense journey of self-discovery, her family and friends have trouble relating to her. By the time she realizes she has isolated herself from all the people who care about her, it is almost too late. Mia has to lose something very special in order to understand and appreciate her special gift in this coming-of-age novel.


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