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A Mango-Shaped Space

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  17,543 Ratings  ·  1,985 Reviews
Mia Winchell appears to be a typical kid, but she's keeping a big secret—sounds, numbers, and words have color for her. No one knows, and Mia wants to keep it that way. But when trouble at school finally forces Mia to reveal her secret, she must learn to accept herself and embrace her ability, called synesthesia, a mingling of the senses.
Paperback, 276 pages
Published October 19th 2005 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2005)
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Lauren I cried and I usually never cry:(
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Yeah, I noticed that too. "Mia" is "mine" in Spanish or Italian. Perhaps her parents admired Mia Farrow in the sixties or something; otherwise, it…moreYeah, I noticed that too. "Mia" is "mine" in Spanish or Italian. Perhaps her parents admired Mia Farrow in the sixties or something; otherwise, it just goes to show how unhealthy the family relationships are. Her mom should have read Kahlil Gibran: "Your children are not your children. They are the sons and the daughters of life's longing for itself. They come through you, though they are not of you, and though they be with you, they belong not to you. You can give them your love, but not your thoughts; they have their own thoughts. You can house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit--not even in your dreams. You can strive to be like them, but you cannot make them just like you."(less)
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Mar 10, 2014 Bluesequin rated it did not like it
Having strong synesthesia myself, I was not very pleased with the way it is portrayed in this book. I understand that Mass does not have synesthesia herself and that this lack of experience clearly makes it difficult for her to portray the condition accurately. Nonetheless, throughout the novel, she either makes synesthesia seem like a harrowing handicap or divine euphoria. Honestly, it's neither. I think Mass made it seem greater than what it actually is. I've never encountered a synesthete who ...more
Feb 24, 2012 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With the rise in popularity of YA novels, I think that somehow we have all forgotten what it is like to actually be a teenager. Even the better (and some of my favorite) YA's feature a girl who is clever, has great self-esteem, and knows who she is. One of the many excellent aspects of A Mango-Shaped Space is that 13 (or is it 14?) year old Mia is not only a cool protagonist, she is also a bit childlike. Granted, she is younger than the typical YA heroine, but she has a bit of naivety and immatu ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
Aug 14, 2011 Spider the Doof Warrior rated it really liked it
First of all, synesthesia is not a disability. You wish you had it. Since it's my username and something I have, I have personal experience on the subject.
My sort of synethesia equals seeing colours in music based on the key, smelling music, tasting it. Feeling the texture of it on my skin. Songs can have a temperature or a time of day like as song can be in the key of D or something and feel like a night sort of song or in the key of D minor and be grey like an overcast day.
I can also taste wor
Dec 09, 2010 Meg added it
I read "A Mango Shaped Space" in sixth grade.

Let me tell you, this book drastically changed my life.

This book isn't about mangos, it's about a young girl named Mia, who associates numbers, letters, sounds, days of the week, and months with colors. This isn't a disease, it isn't a disorder, it's simply a condition, or as I usually refer to it, a gift, or a blessing. It's called Synesthesia (sin-es-tee-ja).

I read this book, and contemplated Mia. It sure sounded awfully familiar...

When I was in pr
Sep 02, 2007 Emma rated it liked it
Recommends it for: tweens
Here's what I like about A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass: The plot is extremely interesting and really, for lack of a better word, new. Mass talks about a condition that most people have never even heard of and she just runs with it.

Here's what I don't like: Mass is at pains throughout the novel to make sure everyone knows her narrator is young. I also have mixed feelings about it winning an award (the Kaplan award I believe) for artistically representing life with a disability.

Here's some in
Jun 10, 2008 Hooma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: formystudents
A Mango-Shaped Space (2003) is a novel by Wendy Mass. This brilliant book is about Mia, a thirteen year old girl living with synesthesia. Her synesthesia causes her problems in school, with friends, and just having her parents understand her. For example, Mia first experiences ridicule at the hands of her third-grade classmates when she is called to the front of the room to do a math problem. She uses coloured chalk to make the numbers fit into the synthesiasiatic form in which she sees them. He ...more
Mar 23, 2014 katarzyna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone, especially pet-owners
Recommended to katarzyna by: my sister
This book is great! I recently recommended it to one of the middle school students I work with and it seemed to going over really well with her.

I'm only a few years shy of being twice Mia the narrator's age, but found her to be awesome. Definitely not perfect and kind of a pain in the butt to other characters at times (terrible school project partner, for one) but such a realistic, hilarious 13-year-old.

The character development was great in general, and I ended up liking pretty much everyone.
Synesthesia is not at all how Mass portrays it in the book. Since you are born with it, you don't remember a timer when "Dave" did not taste like turnips. You don't get scared of it, and its not really something that interferes with your social life. Sure, the occasional "whats the color of my name?" tactic or the "what color is chicken?", but never that someone stops being your friend. When you figure out that other people don't see what you see, you just end up wondering why the heck Tuesday i ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Elspeth rated it liked it
You can also read mine, and MLE's reviews on our blog.

This would have been a four star book if it wasn’t for the degradation at the end into a swirling mass of teen angst.
Yeah, I am not so much into teen angst.

The author did a great job in getting you into Mia’s head, on how scared and frustrated she was with her synesthesia. It made you think, on how the torments of the other children in her third grade math class effected her. On how she kept her synesthesia a secret until she had to tell her
Jan 07, 2015 snowplum rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, yet I would hesitate to say that it is such a great book that anyone or everyone should rush to read it. My favorite parts of it were reading about the various manifestations of synesthesia, which I suppose I could have read about somewhere else; but there is something to be said for a character in a book who is treating acupuncture with all the traditional behaviors of a junkie -- sneaking out, lying, spending all her money on it -- all because it amps up her synest ...more
Oct 10, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-books
'Growth can only truly be achieved through loss' (- A Mango Shaped-Space, by Wendy Mass) I love this quote because it demonstrates The pain and suffering that comes from loss but also the growth. In this book Mia discovers a huge loss that wounds her but also makes her 10x stronger. I feel like this was a great lesson for Wendy to put into her book. In a way i see it as 'when one door closes another door opens'. This is one of the many lessons I learned from this book. "Numbers don't have colors ...more
Oct 04, 2014 E rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile, synesthesia
This book is very special to me. It is about a girl named Mia with a rare neurological condition called synesthesia. People with synesthesia "blend senses". Some common examples include colored hearing, tasting words, colored graphemes, personified graphemes, colored personalities, colored emotions, tasting colors, colored scents, hearing colors, colored units of time... even having unique visual maps of abstract concepts, such as time (for example, September might be three feet above your left ...more
Angie Voong
Jan 02, 2012 Angie Voong rated it it was amazing
So far, I think this is a very interesting book, because I have never seen anyone memorize things by colors. I never even knew what synesthesia was until I started reading this book. At certain times while reading this book, I wish I could experience a day with synesthesia, sensing colors like Mia Winchell. In addition, I enjoy reading the part when Mia is taking the math test. She struggles with memorizing the formulas by actual letters, then she uses her method of using colors during the test ...more
I had a hard time with this. First, the first-person narration felt slightly off to me. Nothing big, nothing really jarring, just ever-so-slightly-off in a way I can't put my finger on. Then there was the whole thing about the ages of Mia's parents. I'm guessing they were born in the 1960-1965 range. Why in hell would Mia's mother blame Mia's problem on the father's drug use in the 60s? I know that this is really trivial, but it's an emotionally fraught section of the story, very high impact, ev ...more
Mar 13, 2014 Gerry rated it it was ok
I find adults who read young adult novels to be kinda creepy, like the men I see playing Magic: The Gathering with teens at the comic book shop on Saturdays. Then again, I am buying comic books on a Saturday, so maybe I'm full of it.

But I, a fully grown human adult, did read A Mango-Shaped Space. My daughter recommended it to me after I gave her a copy of Animal Farm. I'll let you decide who got the better deal.

So this young girl named Mia has synesthesia, a condition that causes her to see soun
Aug 23, 2012 Kristin marked it as to-read
Shelves: children-s-books, ra
I haven't read this, but the synopses actually put me off of it. As someone with synesthesia, I don't see how anyone could think they need to go to a doctor for it or have problems as a result of it. I've never thought it was anything special or scary, just mildly funny-- when I was growing up, my parents just always told other relatives with amusement, oh what a funny kid, she says "it tastes purple" or "it makes my stomach feel blue" or "the air smells orange." Then, when I grew up, I simply k ...more
Aug 18, 2007 Janet rated it liked it
Recommends it for: creative folks & young adults
Here's what I wrote in an email to my former professors, the ones who taught me that synesthesia existed. I have a Master's in gifted & creative education, and many gifted & creative people have synesthesia just as the protagonist in this story does.

In any case, below is the email I sent to them today. It'll have to do as my review, as I don't feel like writing anymore:

One of my new favorite websites,, led me to a reading group for those who love young adult literatur
Writer's Relief
Jan 21, 2015 Writer's Relief rated it it was amazing
Mia is a thirteen-year-old-girl who suffers from synesthesia, a psychological condition that causes her to see sounds, smell colors, and taste shapes. Afraid that she’s crazy, Mia keeps her unique ability a secret. But then trouble at school, and a chance meeting with a boy who has the same gift, prompts Mia to tell her parents about the colors and shapes that bombard her. Now consumed with the need to explore the potential of her gift, Mia disregards her personal relationships and isolates hers ...more
Jun 03, 2010 Britt rated it it was amazing
Britt van der Poel 4-22-10
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

A Mango-Shaped Space is about a girl named Mia who has synesthesia. The color for her name is a sunflower yellow, and the numbers get mixed up in math class all the time. Her parents freak out when she tells them, and when her cat dies all of her colors disappear. Mia is very confused about what to do in her life, but ends up finding a lot of friends who understand and respect her. Eventually, everyone in her class figures out that sh

This book made me cry, three different times. Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. But, I can only give it two stars. Mostly due to my dislike for most of the characters. Not that any of them were particularly bad, I just couldn't connect with a single one. And the writing style felt uneven.

I've felt so weirdly detached and critical when it comes to books lately (which is driving me crazy and making me sad), so I'm not sure if I read this at the right time. Maybe I should have read i
Kim Ammons
Oct 16, 2015 Kim Ammons rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
This book is really good, although really depressing in some parts. It's about a girl that mentally gives a color to everything--sounds, words, numbers, letters, people's names, etc. I don't know if this is a real disorder, but the book is very interesting. I recommend it.
Jan 10, 2016 Mariam rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite books written by Wendy Mass. A Mango-Shaped Space is about a girl who has synesthesia ( I had no clue what synestheisa was before) A unique and fun read. Definitely recommended!
Jan 25, 2009 Jaemi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
This is the second book I've read that revolves around Synthesthesia, and much like the condition manifests itself quite differently in the people it affects, this story was quite different than the other.

The first difference was that in this book, our main character had this condition her whole life, but found no name for it until she was in her teens. She's then hooked up with a support group of other people sharing her condition, and finds herself in what she views as an exciting new world. R
Oct 30, 2009 Victoria rated it really liked it
I have been waiting for a book like this, ever since I became fascinated by the condition called synesthesia; the crossing of the senses. This novel, more than any research paper or psychologist's journal conveys the beauty and struggle of this unique condition.

Mia doesn't understand at first why she can see extra colors and no one else can; why a ringing phone makes red spirals and each number and letter has its own special hue. She struggles with math and other subjects because of it, but she
Jan 05, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I bought a stack of books at Borders yesterday, and I bought a book that I have wanted for quite a bit. I’m even thinking about using this as our next book club book (after A Great and Terrible Beauty).

A Mango Shaped Space tells the tale of Mia Winchell (what an awesome name!) , a secret synesthete. Mia sees colors when she hears sounds, and letters, numbers, and names all have names for her. Except she hasn’t told anyone.

Mia is terrified of the reaction of her fellow students if they ever learn
Cait Grace
A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE was a real breath of fresh air for me. It’s light and calm, but definitely substantial. And it centres around something I’ve never even heard of before: synesthesia. (PS My Goodreads friend recommended it to me. I’m really glad she did!)

The cover is really cute – simple and colourful. And I really love the title. It just fits in with the entire book so well. Normally I don’t gush over covers/titles, but this time? It needs it. LOVE this cover.

Characters? Mia narrates. While
Mar 30, 2008 Erin rated it liked it
My reading preferences tend to gravitate towards the fantastic/magical/otherworldly, but for a realistic fiction novel, this book has a lot going for it.

Quick synopsis: Mia is different than everyone she knows. For years she's kept a secret - she sees colors in sounds and letters and words. Finally in her eighth grade year, when her colors begin to seriously affect her schoolwork, she realizes she can't keep them a secret any longer. Mia's story is one of self-discovery, acceptance, loss, and h
Apr 17, 2013 Debra rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2014 Sue rated it liked it
Recently, I brought my daughter & her friends to a concert. On the ride home, one of her friends, a very pleasant young man, was talking about the colors of the music. Which prompted another friend in the car to get very excited and exclaim... "Oh my God! You have synthesthesia!! I read a book about this!" The whole ride home was so interesting. I had never heard about this "ability" before. Before the kids got out of the car, I got the name of the book. Which is how I came to find this stor ...more
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Super-fans of Wen...: How would you feel if you had Mia's life? 9 29 Mar 07, 2015 09:07AM  
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Wendy Mass is the author of six novels for young people, including A Mango-Shaped Space (which was awarded the Schneider Family Book Award by the American Library Association), Leap Day, the Twice Upon a Time fairy tale series, and Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, which earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly magazine. Her most recent book is Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall. Wendy wrote ...more
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