54 pages 1 hour read

Wendy Mass

A Mango-Shaped Space

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2003

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Medical Context: Synesthesia

Synesthesia is a core narrative element of A Mango-Shaped Space. It is a real condition that can impact people in different ways. Estimates for how common synesthesia is vary significantly, from around 1% of the population to around 25% (“Prevalence of Synesthesia—about the difficulties of testing for synesthesia.” Synesthesia.com, 2018). One of the difficulties in determining the prevalence of synesthesia is that many people who have it never realize that there is anything unusual about their perception of the world. Research on synesthesia is still limited: Neurologists do not know what causes synesthesia, although there is likely a hereditary component. One theory, briefly discussed in A Mango-Shaped Space, is that everyone starts life as a synesthete, but only some people retain these neural connections beyond infancy. As Jerry explains in the novel, synesthetes do not all have the same sensory associations. For one person, the letter A might be green; for another, it might be red. There are many kinds of synesthesia, and it is possible for people to have more than one kind.

Generally speaking, A Mango-Shaped Space provides an accurate representation of synesthesia. Synesthesia is a lifelong experience that cannot be (and does not need to be) cured.