Study Guide

A Mango-Shaped Space Versions of Reality

By Wendy Mass

Versions of Reality

What color is the name Mia? To Mia, her name is candy-apple red with a hint of avocado green, but to Billy, it's purple with orange stripes. To us, it's no color at all. Which is correct? It's impossible to say.

Often in literature we see characters whose versions of reality differ from those of the people around them. In A Mango-Shaped Space, Mia experiences different versions of reality within her own mind, just like the other synesthetes she meets. The book makes it clear that there is no right or wrong color for each name, number, and sound, but instead whatever a synesthete perceives in the world. So one boy's purple is another gal's red, and they're both right.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Whose version of reality do you think is happiest—Mia's or somebody who doesn't have synesthesia? Why? Give examples from the book to support.
  2. What makes synesthesia challenging for Mia? What does she like about her synesthesia? Why does she want to keep it around and get upset when it goes away?
  3. How does grief impact reality? Why are Mia's senses dulled after Mango dies? How are Mia's senses heightened?
  4. Go back and read one of Mia's explanations of her synesthesia. How do you think this would feel? What would be different about your world if you saw music in the way she does?

Chew on This

Reality in A Mango-Shaped Space is a matter of perception rather than something concrete.

Mia perceives the world differently from other people because her reality is filtered through emotions and colors instead of facts and details.

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