get or ask advice from
consulted, left word, waited until it became obvious he would know nothing more.
substitute a person or thing for
Pem comes over on gift-exchange day with a doll to
replace the mouse-bitten one I told her about.
any strong feeling
emotions are squished beneath the embarrassment of not having a gift for her.
the residence of a religious community
Brother Khoi asks what if Father escaped to Tibet after shaving his head and joining a
I can’t think of anything but can’t let my brothers best me, so I
blurt out, What if Father is really gone?
a sudden desire
From the sad look on their faces I know despite their brave guesses they have begun to accept what I said on a
"Whim" also means "an odd or fanciful or capricious idea"--this definition could describe the nature of Ha's question, but the phrase "on a whim" connects to her desire to beat her brothers; that caused the blurting of the idea that Father might really be gone (which is not as whimsical as the guess that he had shaved his head and joined a Buddhist monastery).
move or sway in a rising and falling pattern
Mother says nothing about Father but she chants every night, long chants where her voice
wavers between hope and acceptance.
required or under orders
First day back after Christmas break, I know I’m
supposed to wear everything new.
Here, the "d" at the end of the verb "suppose" turns it into an adjective, but it is an adjective that is always used in the phrase "supposed to." Often, this leads into a point that is the opposite of what the character is supposed to do or feel.
of a light grayish-brown color
beige with blue flowers made from a fabric fuzzy and thick, perfect for this cold day.
a soft light woolen fabric; used for clothing
Don't ya know
flannel is for nightgowns and sheets?
squeeze together tightly
Mother runs in after work, hands
clenched into white balls, words chopped into grunts, face of ash.
cause to move forward with force
We repeat so often we lose count,
propelled by Mother’s wild eyes and pressed mouth, frightened of what her expression would be
the time of day immediately following sunset
dusk, the guards shoo us out.
any likeness of a person, in any medium
The same, forever-young
portrait of Father.
cease an action temporarily
pauses, voice choked.
a formal event performed on a special occasion
I’m trying to tell MiSSSisss WaSShington about our
ceremony for Father.
a determiner indicating the specificity of a noun phrase
But it takes time to match every noun and verb, sort all the tenses, remember all the
articles, set the tone for every s.
In this example sentence, there is 1 article used three times; 6 different nouns; 5 different verbs. Can you spot and name them all?
tenaciously unwilling to yield
stubborn won’t make you fluent.
The adjectives "stubborn" and "fluent" are used as opposites here. A Latin root makes the contrast more vivid: "fluere" means "to flow"--so the speech of a fluent person flows like water, while a stubborn person who is unwilling to yield is like a wall.
announces he will become a doctor of animals.
considered likely or probable to happen or arrive
As with every Tet we are
expected to smile until it hurts all three first days of the year, wear all new clothes especially underneath, not sweep, not splash water, not talk back, not pout.
Compare with "supposed" in this list. Similarly, the verb can be used by itself (example: Mother expected smiles from us), but the adjective is always used with "to" (example: We are expected to smile). The phrase "expected to" often leads into a point where the opposite happens or the character struggles with the expectations.
emerge from the eggs
I pray for Father to find warmth in his new home, Mother to keep smiling more, Brother Quang to enjoy his studies, Vu Lee to drive me from and to school, Brother Khdi to
hatch an American chick.
serve as the inciting cause of
So many details in this story were
inspired by my own memories.
a characteristic to be considered
aspect is important because of something I noticed in my nieces and nephews.
being of crucial importance
I hope you enjoy reading about Ha as much as I have enjoyed remembering the
pivotal year in my life.
A pivot is an "axis consisting of a shaft supporting something that turns"--so this pivotal year is also the turning point of the author's life. Because the readers do not see the fictional Ha as an adult, the same point cannot be made about her (yet).
call upon in supplication
I also hope after you finish this book that you sit close to someone you love and
implore that person to tell and tell and tell their story.