Chapters 22–26

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. behalf
    as the agent of or on someone's part
    “But I feel like I should apologize on behalf of white people everywhere.”
  2. plead
    appeal or request earnestly
    The entire drive I plead with God to let DeVante be okay.
  3. graffiti
    a rude decoration inscribed on rocks or walls
    At the Cedar Grove Projects there’s graffiti on the walls and broken-down cars in the courtyard.
  4. mural
    a painting that is applied to a wall surface
    Under the Black Jesus mural at the clinic, grass grows up through the cracks in the sidewalk.
  5. decipher
    convert code into ordinary language
    A pair of gray high-tops dangle by their laces from the utility line in front of the house, telling everybody who can decipher the code that drugs are sold here.
  6. chandelier
    an ornate branched lighting fixture
    Compared to the outside, the inside is five-star-hotel nice. They have a damn chandelier in the living room and brand-new leather furniture. A flat-screen TV takes up a whole wall, and tropical fish swim around in a tank on another wall. The definition of “hood rich.”
  7. plush
    characterized by extravagance and softness
    DeVante lies on the floor in the fetal position at the foot of a king-size bed. The plush white carpet is stained with his blood as it trickles from his nose and mouth.
  8. grip
    the act of grasping
    “Seven, no,” I say. He tries to pull away, but my grip and Kenya’s grip are steel. “You go out there and you’re dead.”
  9. snarl
    utter in an angry, sharp, or abrupt tone
    “He put his hands on you,” Seven snarls. “I said I wouldn’t let that happen again.”
  10. frustration
    the feeling of being thwarted in attaining your goals
    I understand his frustration like it’s mine.
  11. wince
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    Chris and Seven each take one of DeVante’s hands and pull him up. DeVante winces and cusses the whole way. Once on his feet, he bends over, holding his side, but slowly straightens up and takes steadying breaths.
  12. initiate
    accept people into an exclusive society or group
    I got beat worse than this when I got initiated.
  13. bandana
    a large and brightly colored handkerchief
    King Lords in gray bandanas and Garden Disciples in green bandanas stand on a police car in the middle of the street, chanting, “Justice for Khalil!”
  14. misery
    a feeling of intense unhappiness
    People say misery loves company, but I think it’s like that with anger too. I’m not the only one pissed—everyone around me is.
  15. shatter
    break into many pieces
    Glass shatters at the pawnshop on the next block. Then at the beauty supply store near it.
  16. assembly
    a group of persons gathered together for a common purpose
    “This is not a peaceful assembly,” an officer on a loudspeaker says.
  17. disperse
    move away from each other
    Disperse now, or you will be subject to arrest.”
  18. enforcement
    ensuring observance of or obedience to
    “Stop throwing objects at law enforcement,” the officer says. “Exit the streets immediately or you will be subject to arrest.”
  19. stampede
    a headlong rush of people on a common impulse
    He hops off the bench, and we run. It’s damn near a stampede on the sidewalk.
  20. standard
    a basis for comparison
    “DeVante’s got a point. What makes his name or our names any less normal than yours? Who or what defines ‘normal’ to you? If my pops were here, he’d say you’ve fallen into the trap of the white standard.”
  21. chant
    utter monotonously and repetitively and rhythmically
    “A hairbrush is not a gun! A hairbrush is not a gun!” a voice chants from another loudspeaker. It’s echoed back by a crowd.
  22. radical
    a person who has revolutionary ideas or opinions
    Now I knew Ms. Ofrah was about that radical life, but when you think “attorney” you don’t really think “person standing on a police car with a bullhorn,” you know?
  23. movement
    a group of people who try together to achieve certain goals
    You can destroy wood and brick, but you can’t destroy a movement.
  24. productive
    yielding positive results
    “Who said talking isn’t doing something?” she says. “It’s more productive than silence. Remember what I told you about your voice?”
  25. consume
    destroy completely
    I scream at the top of my lungs, hoping Khalil hears me, and chuck it back at the cops. It explodes and consumes them in a cloud of tear gas.
  26. engulf
    flow over or cover completely
    I try to tell them about the bus, but explosions go off and thick white smoke engulfs us. My nose and throat burn as if I swallowed fire. My eyes feel like flames lick them.
  27. ransack
    steal goods; take as spoils
    When my eyes aren’t closed I see what my neighborhood has become. More tanks, more cops in riot gear, more smoke. Businesses ransacked. Streetlights are out, and fires keep everything from being in complete darkness.
  28. plague
    any epidemic disease with a high death rate
    The windows are boarded up with that same “black owned” tag on them, like it’s lamb’s blood protecting the store from the plague of death.
  29. remorseful
    feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
    “C’mon. Make sure y’all sound remorseful, all right?”
  30. inferno
    a very intense and uncontrolled fire
    With the boards on the windows, he can’t see the inferno in the store unless he looks through the front door.
  31. douse
    cover with liquid; pour liquid onto
    Tim rushes a bucket of water from his uncle’s restaurant. He runs into our store and douses it on the flames, but he’s forced to jump back too.
  32. billow
    rise and move, as in waves
    Flames eat away at the roof, and smoke billows from the windows of the barbershop next door.
  33. increment
    the amount by which something increases
    “It’s a step up. You gotta earn my tolerance in increments if you gon’ date my daughter.”
  34. wrath
    intense anger
    “Of course I’m mad. I’m actually pissed. But I’m happier that you’re safe. Now, my mom and Pam, that’s a whole different story. I can’t save you from their wrath.”
  35. arson
    malicious burning to destroy property
    “Sooo . . . thanks to all these witnesses, we should get King for arson.”
  36. activism
    a policy of action to achieve a political or social goal
    She also says she thinks I have a future in activism.
  37. smirk
    a smile expressing smugness or scorn instead of pleasure
    Tupac stares back at me from a poster, a smirk on his face. The Thug Life tattoo on his stomach looks bolder than the rest of the photo. It was the first thing I put in my new room. Kinda like bringing Khalil with me.
  38. renovate
    restore to a previous or better condition
    “And I’m gon’ figure something out to do about the store till I get it renovated,” says Daddy. “We ain’t gotta live there to change things, baby. We just gotta give a damn. A’ight?”
  39. rubble
    the remains of something that has been destroyed
    The store is the hardest to see. The burned roof folds into itself like the slightest wind will knock it over. The bricks and burglar bars protect charred rubble.
  40. ashamed
    feeling guilt or embarrassment or remorse
    I was ashamed of Garden Heights and everything in it. It seems stupid now though. I can’t change where I come from or what I’ve been through, so why should I be ashamed of what makes me, me? That’s like being ashamed of myself.
Created on June 26, 2017 (updated April 8, 2019)

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