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Little, Brown and Company, 2003

Mia Winchell is a synesthetes—her brain’s electrical wiring causes words and sounds to be accompanied by a visual display of colors. She describes laughter as “a pale blue cloud that drizzles down.” The word friend is “turquoise with the glow of glossy red.” Mia, now 13 years old, has been keeping her condition a secret since she first discovered it in the third grade. When Mia finally confides in her parents, they take her to a series of doctors, and she is properly diagnosed. Once the teen learns that she’s not crazy and her problem is synesthesia, she embraces her uniqueness. But she also abandons her normal relationships to spend time with fellow synesthetes. Finally, the death of her beloved cat, Mango, reconciles Mia to her family and friends. Wendy Mass’s novel (Little, Brown, 2003) captures the emotional roller-coaster ride of a teenager born with synesthesia in much the same way as Mark Haddon captured the complicated world of autism in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Doubleday 2003). Mass weaves an intriguing and compelling story filled with believable dialogue and characters. Mia’s parents are almost too perfect, but her siblings’ and friends’ personalities and voices ring true. Narrator Danielle Ferland moves from character to character effortlessly, but without much deviation in voice inflections for the secondary players. In voicing Mia, she does a remarkable job of expressing the whirlwind of complicated teenage emotions. A must for all collections.

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