54 pages • 1 hour readWendy Mass
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Content Warning: This section of the guide discuss themes of grief and loss, as well as a brief discussion of historical enslavement and suicide. The text occasionally uses outdated language to refer to neurological differences.
A Mango-Shaped Space begins with Mia recalling a day at school when she was in third grade. She remembers being unable to complete a math problem on the board in front of her whole class. The math problem is written in white chalk, but Mia associates numbers with specific colors. To buy time, she rewrites the numbers in their correct colors. She asks, “[i]sn’t it better to use the right colors?” (7), thinking that everyone will know what she is talking about, but both the teacher and the rest of the class are confused. Her classmates call her a “freak.”
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The teacher grows frustrated with Mia and sends her to see the principal. When Mia explains her color associations to the principal, he calls her parents. She is forced to explain for a third time; each time, the adults in her life do not believe her. After realizing that no one is going to understand her, Mia lies and says that she made it all up. Her classmates forget about the incident, but Mia knows that there is something different about her and resolves to keep it a secret.
By Wendy Mass