Study Guide

A Mango-Shaped Space Lies and Deceit

By Wendy Mass

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Lies and Deceit


So I pretended I made everything up. I sat there and said things like "It was stupid," "I was only playing around." And, at least twenty times, "I'm sorry." (Pro.14)

Mia would rather lie about seeing colors than fess up because she's afraid of being labeled a freak again. That was a really traumatic experience for her. It's also interesting that she claims she was lying about colors, but that's actually the lie. Boom. That was the sound of minds being blown.

Chapter 2

When I was little, I used to run out into the rain and let the water run all over me. Then one day I saw lightning split a tree nearly in half. That pretty much took the joy out of prancing around in thunderstorms. (2.24)

There are the lies we tell other people, and then there are the lies we tell ourselves. Mia doesn't want to think about the lightning and danger of the rain when she's little, but pretty soon she's forced to think about the darker stuff in life. Hey, it's part of growing up and realizing not everything is as pretty as it might seem.

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 puts on a brave face, though Mia knows it's really gut wrenching for her. In this moment, it occurs to Mia that she's not the only one who lies to other people to keep her secrets safe—everyone does it, even with their closest friends.

Chapter 7

I consider pointing out that it's only Saturday night and that I'd have all day tomorrow to finish it, but I don't want to take the chance. "Yes," I lie, telling myself that at least I feel guilty about lying, and that must count for something. I'll do three good deeds to make up for it. (7.74)

When her mom asks about her homework, Mia doesn't think twice about lying. That doesn't mean she feels guiltless, though. In fact, Mia pledges to do some good deeds because she feels so badly about her lie.

Chapter 8

I pull them out, and an idea forms in my head. I've never cheated on anything before, but I can't fail another math test. It would be too humiliating. […] I'm so proud of myself that I forget to be ashamed. (8.96)

In math class, Mia is faced with a dilemma. Should she cheat on a test or go to summer school? She chooses cheating, and she doesn't even regret it one bit… or does she? Mia tells us that she "forgets" to be ashamed, which suggests the feeling is down there somewhere. Maybe she can't color this one all pretty.

Chapter 9


Adam's advice to Mia is to lie to her parents and try out acupuncture if she wants to. We can tell that he's not the best influence on her since he wastes no time convincing her to lie her way through life (not that she needs any encouragement).

Chapter 11

I could tell that when Zack said he finished his homework, he really had done it. And when Beth said she was at the library all afternoon, I knew she wasn't. But I knew that the old-fashioned way—by spying from behind a tree. (11.1)

Liar, liar, pants on fire. Beth lies to her parents about spending the afternoon in the library when she was really with her boyfriend. It looks like Mia isn't the only one who lies to their parents, and doesn't get caught. Maybe it's all just a part of growing up.

The food drive takes place in the gym at my old elementary school, and we've gone for the last three years. Any activity to pass time faster is fine with me. Plus this will cover me in the good-deeds department. (11.13)

For future lies, Mia makes sure to do a good deed (helping the homeless). Hey, we're in full support of helping out people who are down on their luck, but Mia probably shouldn't do that stuff just because she's lying or doing other bad stuff. Just saying.

Chapter 15

I can't believe I threw away his gift. […] I look up at my bedroom window and then position myself underneath it. Grandpa's moon piece should have landed right around here, but the ground is so wet and muddy that I can't find it. It must have disintegrated by now and become part of the grass. I finally give up the search, resigned to the fact that the gift is lost forever. (15.107)

Because she lied about her synesthesia for so long, Mia threw away a gift. She figures out that she could have gotten tips and info from her grandparents but didn't bother asking them about colors since she hid the truth from everyone for so long. Perhaps lying isn't the best policy, after all.

Roger Carson

"That's okay, right?" he asks as we leave the room together. "She does know about this, doesn't she?"

"Of course she knows," I reply. "Well, she kind of knows." Then, "Okay, no, she doesn't know." (10.107-108)

When Mia confides in Roger that she's really lying to her mom about acupuncture, he's uncomfortable about it… but he doesn't rat her out either. He lets her do her own thing. Mia, on the other hand, has no trouble deceiving her mom because she figures it'll be worth it.

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