November 29, 2012

In living colour

A Mango-Shaped Space
by Wendy Mass

Thirteen-year-old Mia Winchell has always seen colors in sounds, numbers, and letters, a fact she has kept secret since she was eight. She had always assumed that other people had the same ability, and was embarrassed when she discovered the truth. Even now, she still remembers the teasing. However, when Mia fails two math quizzes, she realizes that she needs help. Her parents don't understand, and makes her see a doctor. That's when Mia learns that her condition has a name: synesthesia. From then on, she's obsessed with connecting with other synesthetes and trying new experiences. This distances her from her friends and it takes the death of her cat to make her more aware of those around her. 

Mia's description of the vivid world she sees, filled with streaks of color, is fascinating. Even acupuncture creates a personal light show:

Tiny gray balls float in front of my eyes. ... [They] turn silver, bright silver, and there are swirls of yellow mixed in. The needle goes in my other earlobe, and small bubbles, like multicolored marbles, enter from the left and zoom in front of my face ... The bubbles are now undulating and forming the most incredible streaks of color.

A very interesting coming-of-age novel that will have readers wishing that they had synesthesia too.

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