Monday, February 2, 2015

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

2 stars
book club

"Mia Winchell appears to be a typical kid, but she's keeping a big secret—sounds, numbers, and words have color for her. No one knows, and Mia wants to keep it that way. But when trouble at school finally forces Mia to reveal her secret, she must learn to accept herself and embrace her ability, called synesthesia, a mingling of the senses."
(from GoodReads)

I actually went into this without having read that little synopsis or anything else to give me a clue what this book was about.  My friend Alyson (of Eat, Read, and Be Mommy), on the other hand, went into it looking forward the the synesthesia aspect.

This is possibly what led us to have VERY different experiences.

As much as I wanted to love it, this book ended up being one of those that I not only didn't enjoy reading, but that I like less the more I think about.

It suffered from a lack of judicious pruning during the editing process, resulting in a narrative that tries to be multiple things and ends up doing them all poorly, rather than scaling back to one and doing it well.  Books are edited for a reason.  As a writer I am WELL aware of the absolute heartache of having to prune away an entire character, or maybe even an entire storyline.  It's a decent part of the recent why my desire to be published lessens and lessens.  But the fact is, it needs to happen for other people to read the book.

The writing isn't bad, there's just too much going on and too little resolution.  Like I said, it's an editing issue more than a writing issue.

That, and for some reason the emotional climax of this book was... devastating feels melodramatic to say now, but that's certainly how it felt as I was bawling my brains out at 1:30 am.  


Very little makes me cry, but OH MY GOSH.

So, while I felt devastated by the emotional storyline (and frankly felt the synesthesia could have been easily replaced of even removed), Alyson felt the opposite-- the emotional stuff was all catalyst and could have been replaced.

Thing is, that's the same feeling, just from different sides of the story.  Really, it's 2 stories when it needed to just be one.

And can we talk for a moment about the utter CREEPINESS of the whole experimentation with new experiences and using people and lying to get them?  Replace the synesthesia with depression and the experimenting with self-medication through drugs and alcohol and you'd have the SAME STORY.  As a parent that part was AWFUL.

Also, as a parent, many things rang totally false to me-- no one realizes there's anything different about her, her parents start freaking out at each other, blaming each other as soon as she tells them... right in front of her, etc etc etc

Overall.... yeah, I didn't like it.  I didn't particularly like Mia.  (It seriously took me a minute to even come up with her name... and I just read it less than 24 hours ago!)  I didn't enjoy reading it.

This one wasn't for me.  Check out Alyson's Review.

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