54 pages 1 hour read

Wendy Mass

A Mango-Shaped Space

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2003

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Symbols & Motifs


Mango is the book’s primary symbol. Mia named him after the color of his meows, meaning that Mango is the first external symbol of her synesthesia. She found Mango as a kitten on the day of her grandfather’s funeral, sitting next to his grave. When Mango looked up at her, Mia saw her grandfather’s eyes staring up at her. Since that day, she has felt that Mango contains a piece of her grandfather’s soul. She believes that “people’s souls splinter off when they die” and that “[p]art of Grandpa is inside of Mango, part is in heaven dancing with Grams” (28). 

Mango symbolizes Mia’s connection to her grandfather and serves as a way for her to process her own grief after his death. She later talks about the fact that she never really mourned her grandfather’s passing, because she still had a piece of him with her in Mango. When Mango dies, her grief is very intense, as she is not only grieving the loss of her beloved cat, but her grandfather as well. 

Through Mango’s death, Wendy Mass generates some resolution to the theme of Grief and Healing. Mia has to think about her grandfather’s soul in heaven being reunited with the part that was in Mango to accept his death.