Study Guide

A Mango-Shaped Space Plot Analysis

By Wendy Mass

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Plot Analysis


A World of Color

Mia is your average school kid, expect for the fact that she sees colors whenever she hears sounds or reads. She doesn't think too much of this, though, until her classmates laugh at her one day because of it. Even though we don't get to know Mia as a third grader, we'll call this peak into her past our exposition because it sets us up for the rest of the novel. Without her experience of being mocked for synesthesia as a kid, she wouldn't try to hide it quite so much. And hiding it is a big part of Mia's problem in this book.

Rising Action

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

After failing a couple of math tests, Mia finally fesses up to her parents about numbers having colors. Her parents take her to a slew of doctors, and before long, they figure out that Mia has a rare condition called synesthesia. Ah, so that's what's been going on for Mia all these years. Even better, she meets other people just like her and she finally feels like less of a freak. On the downside, though, Mia's best friend, Jenna, let's her secret slip and now everyone at school knows about her condition.

Life gets pretty complicated as Mia navigates endless questions at school as well as struggles to balance between her school friends and the people she's meeting through her new synesthesia networks.


That Darn Cat

Mia loves spending time with her new synesthete friends and doesn't pay much attention to anything else, including her beloved cat, Mango. He's been sick for a while, but he wheezes even more one night after he's accidentally left outside for a couple hours. And then he dies, and Mia blames herself.

This is Mia's turning point because it makes her realize what's really important in life. She's been so wrapped up in her synesthesia that she's forgotten who her real friends are (Jenna and Roger) and who they aren't (Adam). Mango's death brings her priorities back into focus, though. Phew. 

Falling Action

The Mango Tree

After Mango dies, Mia doesn't want to do anything. Ever. Pretty soon, though, her parents force her back to school, and Mia starts returning to normal life. She still misses her cat, but in general things are more balanced for our main girl now. She's connecting better with her family and feeling more comfortable at school after realizing that, synesthetes or not, some of the kids she knows there are true blue friends.


Colonel Mustard in the Collar

The book leaves us without one big, happy ending. Mango has only recently died, and Mia and her family are still getting over it—but we don't go away empty-handed. Mia and Zack discover that Mango has a litter of kittens stashed away at their neighbor's house. At first Mia is reluctant to adopt one, but she eventually comes around to the idea of having another pet cat. We're left knowing that Mia is ready to move on with her life and a little jealous of all the kitten cuddling in her future.

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