Study Guide

A Mango-Shaped Space Chapter 1

By Wendy Mass

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Chapter 1

  • Mia and her BFF Jenna walk down a ravine out in the fields. Their families own farmland in Illinois; Jenna' dad actually farms the land, while Mia's family uses it to land her dad's chopper.
  • Farmers need farm equipment repaired from time to time, and that's where Mia's dad comes in: He's a handyman of sorts who loves to fix and build stuff.
  • In fact, he even built their house with his dad. They couldn't decide on the style, so they both started building at different ends and met in the middle. Now the house has secret passageways and stairwells that lead nowhere.
  • Jenna and Mia each wear a friendship bracelet that Jenna's mom gave them. She died three years ago from cancer but made the girls promise never to take them off. Ever.
  • The bracelets are all dirty and gross by now (three years of grime will do that to them) but the girls wear them everywhere.
  • They call themselves PIC—partners in crime—wherever they go.
  • As they walk, Jenna and Mia talk about a painting Mia's been working on to take to her grandpa. He died last year, and Mia is making it for his grave.
  • She got the idea because each year Jenna takes a gift to her mom's grave, too. Then Mia's mom gives Jenna a gift. Before she died, Jenna's mom wrote a bunch of letters and bought special keepsakes for her daughter. Now Jenna gets to open one each year.
  • Mia tells us a little bit about her family as the girls chitchat.
  • There's her older sister, Beth, who changes her hair color as much as she can. She and Mia used to be close, but now that Beth's in high school she doesn't like her little sister cramping her style any more.
  • Mia also has a younger brother, Zack, who is wildly eccentric. He believes every superstition and makes everyone else follow them, too. Don't walk under any ladders while he's around…
  • When the girls get back to Mia's house, Jenna goes home so Mia can finish her painting.
  • Before she can start, Mia looks for her cat, Mango the Magnificent. She finds him in Beth's room, and walks back to her own room where Zack is waiting for her.
  • He is resetting all of her clocks so they are the exact same time. Mia loves to collect clocks, you see, and has a bunch.
  • All of a sudden, the clocks' alarms go off simultaneously.
  • Mia is scared—mainly because a swarm of colors overwhelm her from the sounds. Zack looks at her like she's lost her marbles and wonders what the big deal is. Usually she keeps the alarms on silent so this never happens.
  • After Zack leaves Mia tries to paint, but she can't. She's still too rattled from the symphony of alarms.
  • Finally she puts on Mozart (her grandpa's favorite) and sees small colors coming from the noise. Ah, that's better. She starts to paint.

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