Chapters 1–5

In this best-selling novel, sixteen-year-old Starr's life is turned upside down when she witnesses the death of her friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Learn these words from Angie Thomas's powerful and provocative debut.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. repent
    turn away from sin or do penitence
    He always has it on the Friday of spring break because you need Saturday to recover and Sunday to repent.
  2. edition
    something a little different from others of the same type
    If I’d known following her to this party meant she’d be on some Extreme Makeover: Starr Edition mess, I would’ve stayed home and watched Fresh Prince reruns.
  3. seethe
    be in an agitated emotional state
    “Ooh! I can’t stand her,” Kenya seethes.
  4. offend
    hurt the feelings of
    She has the nerve to look offended. “It ain’t like you had nothing else to do! Or anybody else to hang out with."
  5. ironic
    displaying incongruity between what is expected and what is
    As long as I play it cool and keep to myself, I should be fine. The ironic thing is though, at Williamson I don’t have to “play it cool”—I’m cool by default because I’m one of the only black kids there.
  6. persona
    an image of oneself that one presents to the world
    He smiles at me, and his dimples ruin any G persona he has.
  7. prophecy
    a prediction uttered under divine inspiration
    “She’ll be a’ight.”
    It’s a prayer more than a prophecy.
  8. gape
    look with amazement
    I gape at him. “Leave my husband alone!”
  9. cringe
    draw back, as with fear, pain, or embarrassment
    He scrubs the shoes with his napkin. I cringe. With each hard rub, the shoes cry for my help.
  10. improper
    not suitable or right or appropriate
    No lie, every time a sneaker is cleaned improperly, a kitten dies.
  11. commotion
    a disorderly outburst or tumult
    A commotion stirs in the middle of the dance floor. Voices argue louder than the music.
  12. interior
    the region that is inside of something
    Khalil’s Impala is nice. Not all flashy like some guys’ cars. I didn’t see any rims before I got in, and the front seat has cracks in the leather. But the interior is a tacky lime green, so it’s been customized at some point.
  13. territory
    the geographical area under the jurisdiction of a state
    Garden Heights has been a battlefield for the past two months over some stupid territory wars.
  14. philosophical
    relating to the investigation of existence and knowledge
    He points at me, which means he’s about to go into one of his Khalil philosophical moments.
  15. relevant
    having a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
    “See? Told you he was relevant.”
  16. minimum
    the smallest possible quantity
    “I don’t need help from nobody, okay? And that li’l minimum-wage job your pops gave me didn’t make nothing happen. I got tired of choosing between lights and food.”
  17. intimidate
    compel or deter by or as if by threats
    Instead, my big brother’s all-caps texts appear on the screen. I don’t know why he does that. He probably thinks it intimidates me. Really, it annoys the hell out of me.
  18. protective
    solicitously caring or mindful
    The only thing worse than protective parents is protective older brothers.
  19. visible
    capable of being seen or open to easy view
    “Starr-Starr, you do whatever they tell you to do,” he said. “Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.”
  20. approach
    move towards
    The officer approaches the driver’s door and taps the window.
  21. registration
    a document certifying an act of recording
    “License, registration, and proof of insurance.”
  22. badge
    an emblem that signifies your status
    My heart pounds loudly, but Daddy’s instructions echo in my head: Get a good look at the cop's face. If you can remember his badge number, that's even better.
  23. splatter
    cause or allow to run or flow from a container
    Khalil’s body jerks. Blood splatters from his back. He holds on to the door to keep himself upright.
  24. instinct
    inborn pattern of behavior often responsive to stimuli
    Instinct says don’t move, but everything else says check on Khalil.
  25. exhibit
    something shown to the public
    They leave Khalil’s body in the street like it’s an exhibit. Police cars and ambulances flash all along Carnation Street. People stand off to the side, trying to see what happened.
  26. rummage
    search haphazardly
    The cops rummage through Khalil’s car.
  27. morgue
    a building or room where dead bodies are kept before burial
    I’m lying in bed. Khalil is lying in the county morgue.
  28. fragile
    easily broken or damaged or destroyed
    It’s like a “ Fragile” sticker’s on my forehead, and instead of taking a chance and saying something that might break me, they’d rather say nothing at all.
  29. threat
    declaration of an intention to inflict harm on another
    “Besides the cop, I’m the only person who was there. And you’ve seen stuff like this. It ends up on national news. People get death threats, cops target them, all kinds of stuff.”
  30. petition
    a formal request that something be submitted to an authority
    I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
  31. involved
    connected by participation or association or use
    Between a story about a bad car accident on the freeway and a garbage bag of live puppies that was found in a park, there’s a short story about an officer-involved shooting that is being investigated. They don’t even say Khalil’s name.
  32. investigate
    conduct an inquiry of
    “We have to investigate, Lisa,” says a second voice.
  33. justify
    defend, explain, or make excuses for by reasoning
    “You mean y’all wanna justify what that pig did,” Daddy says.
  34. necessary
    unavoidably determined by prior circumstances
    “And it wasn’t necessary for that cop to pull the trigger,” says Daddy.
  35. justice
    judgment involved in the assignment of reward and punishment
    “Oh, we know the truth, that’s not what we want,” says Daddy. “We want justice.”
  36. anguish
    extreme distress of body or mind
    But as I hold Khalil’s grandma’s hand, I see the anguish in her eyes.
  37. situation
    a complex or critical or unusual difficulty
    Help my baby girl get through her situation, Lord. Give her peace of mind, and help her speak her truth this afternoon.
  38. incident
    a single distinct event
    I’ve barely looked at my phone since Khalil got. . . since the incident.
  39. claim
    assert or affirm strongly
    Her red eyes remind me of what Khalil said when we were little, that his momma had turned into a dragon. He claimed that one day he’d become a knight and turn her back.
  40. regardless
    in spite of everything
    When she looks at me through the red haze, Khalil’s eyes stare back at me, and I realize my mom’s right. Ms. Brenda is Khalil’s momma. Regardless.
Created on June 24, 2017 (updated April 8, 2019)

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