As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

April 1, 2011

A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE by Wendy Mass, 2004

A Mango-Shaped SpaceMia Winchell has synesthesia, the mingling of perceptions whereby a person can see sounds, smell colors, or taste shapes. Forced to reveal her condition, she must look to herself to develop an understanding and appreciation of her gift in this coming-of-age novel. (Amazon)

Review by Kim Thacker, Writer, Mommy, and Bookshop Talk host

As an author, Wendy Mass is known for her careful attention to detail.  Her novel, EVERY SOUL A STAR, deals with eclipses—and readers end up feeling pretty smart by the time they’re finished with that book, because it is meticulously researched.  A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE, which won the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, is similarly based on fact.

Mia deals with synesthesia.  When her cat purrs, she sees shades of yellow-orange.  Her reaction to the sounds she hears causes another sensory reaction—that of seeing color.  Here’s a snippet from the book:

I suddenly felt very small, as if my skin was tightening and I was actually shrinking.  A whirring sound filled my head.  How was this possible?  Was everyone playing a trick on me?  Of course numbers had colors.  Were they also going to tell me that letters and sounds didn’t have colors?  That the letter a wasn’t yellow like a faded sunflower and screeching chalk didn’t make red jagged lines in the air?

Mass manages to teach her reader about Mia’s synesthesia (and a lot about synesthesia in general), but not for the purpose of making the reader an expert on the subject.  I believe her purpose is to help us more fully sympathize with Mia.  We slip into Mia’s amazing shoes, and for a minute, a person like me, who does not have synesthesia, can see colors in the words of the book.  Reading A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE is almost a synesthetic experience in itself.  The words bring images, and those images are impossible and beautiful.

Market:  Young Adult
Language:  Mild (a few uses of the name of deity)
Sensuality:  Mild
Violence:  None (There is one death, but it isn’t violent, and it adds to the story, so it’s not senseless.)
Mature Themes:  self-acceptance; death

Book formats:

To learn more about the author, visit: Wendy Mass


candice ashment art said...

Kim, you're amazing! As soon as I catch up, I need you to help me pick a good book!

Amy Finnegan {} said...

This book sounds SO unique! I've really got to check it out. Thanks for the great review, Kim :)

Alix said...

Spunds like a wonderful book Kim. I'll have to pick it up -Thanks