Study Guide

A Mango-Shaped Space Friendship

By Wendy Mass

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Chapter 1

My best friend, Jenna Davis, as we climb farther down into the steep, parched ravine. We've been inseparable since we were five and her mother brought her to my house to play. We bonded over the various ways we could contort my Barbie and Ken dolls without breaking them. (1.1)

When you've been friends as long as Jenna and Mia have been, you have a lot of memories. On the list? Playing with Barbies back in the day. Mia tells us this in passing so we get just how long these girls have been by each other's sides—and it's a long time.

Before she died, Jenna's mom bought us the rope friendship bracelets that we have never taken off. She said that as long as we kept them on, nothing could come between us. (1.6)

The friendship bracelets Jenna and Mia wear are a big deal because they are a gift from Jenna's mom before she dies. But they are also symbolic of the girls' BFF status. The bracelets highlight the commitment they have to one another through thick and thin.

Chapter 3

I watch her walk away. These visits are hard for her, no matter what she says. Or doesn't say. I hurry back to the house thinking of all the things we keep from other people. Even our best friends. (3.19)

Visiting her mom's grave, Jenna pretends to be strong, but Mia knows the truth (ahem, that it's really hard for her). It's telling that Mia thinks about the secrets we keep from friends, especially because she is holding a big one inside, too. It looks like lies are par for the course with friendship.

Chapter 4
Jenna Davis

"Maybe you don't know what a best friend is." She steps away from me. […] "I don't understand why you didn't tell me in third grade. Or fourth grade. Or seventh. It's always been you and me against the world. I'll bet there are lots of things you don't bother to tell me." (4.173)

Oh, snap. Jenna is ticked when she finally learns about Mia's synesthesia, but not because Mia is a freak or anything. She's annoyed that her so-called BFF kept a secret from her for years for no good reason. Hey, we don't blame her—that's not what friends do.

Chapter 5

I don't know what I'd do if she didn't. There isn't anyone else I would want for a best friend. I twist the friendship bracelet back and forth on my wrist. Molly and Kimberly and Sara are fine for school friends, but we've never spent much time together outside of school. (5.11)

If Jenna doesn't come around (after their fight), Mia will be lost. As she thinks about this, she worries what will happen if she's forced to make a new best friend because there are no other worthy candidates in her life. It just goes to show how valuable friends truly are.

Chapter 8

It's so much easier to talk to people over e-mail than it is in person. I feel like I made a new friend, and I never even left the house! (8.13)

Sounds great, but we can't help but wonder whether one of the reasons that Mia befriends Adam so quickly is because it's all via email. We love getting them, but we'll be the first to admit that you definitely lose out on something when you're only emailing. Eventually Mia learns real friends don't just talk via computer all the time, but are there for each other when it really counts.

Chapter 10

Mango slides across the freshly waxed front hallway and leaves a mango-colored streak behind him. A wonderful magical mango streak that fills my heart to bursting. (10.173)

It's not just Jenna that Mia is close to; Mango is a huge friend in her life, too, even if he is only a cat. She snuggles with him when she's down and is happy when she sees his orange-colored streaks down the hallway. He's her confidant, pal, and sidekick, all in one florious fur-ball.

Chapter 14
Jenna Davis

"You stayed late at your big meeting this afternoon, right? Because those people are more important than me. I bet you didn't even wear our friendship bracelet to the meeting."(14.44)

Ouch. Jenna knows how to throw a punch. When Mia doesn't show to her party, Jenna lashes out at her friend. Hey, this is all a part of the ups and downs of friendship. Sometimes people get on your nerves, but in the end, these girls have each other's backs.

Chapter 15

She pushes up the sleeve of my sweater, whips out a pair of scissors from her jacket pocket, and cuts right through my friendship bracelet. It falls to the ground, and my jaw drops open. (15.27)

Jenna gives Mia a brand new gold friendship bracelet to symbolize the renewed friendship they have—those dirty old bracelets were cool a couple years ago, but they've outgrown them now. They are closer than ever and have the gold to back it up.

As I open the back door, my friendship bracelet gets caught on the latch and a thread rips. Sucking in my breath, I tuck the broken ends back in place so Jenna won't notice. Maybe we're getting too old to wear them after all. (9.101)

As soon as Mia's friendship bracelet rips, she knows she's in trouble. We talk more about how the bracelets are symbolic in "Symbols," but we will say that this shows us the damage that's been done to Jenna and Mia' friendship. Mia is so preoccupied with her synesthesia now that she hardly makes time for her friend anymore. Not cool, Mia. Not cool.

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