Chapters 7-12

In Ibi Zoboi's debut novel, a young Haitian immigrant tries to make a new life for herself in Detroit.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. curse
    utter obscenities or profanities
    Aunt Jo is dressed up in too-tight jeans and a nice bright shirt for the first time since I arrived, and she has guests in the living room—four men who smoke and curse just as much as Pri.
  2. altar
    a raised structure on which sacrifices to a god are made
    I’m sitting on the edge of Chantal’s bed, waiting for Donna to do my hair, when Pri comes in and stands right in front of my altar.
  3. remembrance
    a recognition of meritorious service
    And we always say his name in remembrance—Jean-Phillip François.
  4. rhythm
    the basic recurring unit in a piece of music
    Everyone dips and sways to the rhythm.
  5. stance
    standing posture
    I’m sure of it because he has the same stance, the same gait.
  6. gait
    a person's manner of walking
    I’m sure of it because he has the same stance, the same gait.
  7. tame
    overcome the wildness of; make docile and tractable
    Dray is putting her in a headlock to tame that dragon.
  8. zoom
    move along very quickly
    As we all enter the house and Dray and Kasim zoom off into the night, Bad Leg finishes his song with these words:
    Love me to the moon and back.
  9. courtyard
    an area wholly or partly surrounded by walls or buildings
    Is it because you are a mambo—a Vodou priestess who held ceremonies in the courtyard of a Christian NGO building?
  10. sinful
    morally objectionable or wicked
    I’ve searched my memory for all the sinful things I’ve done.
  11. fertility
    the state of being capable of producing offspring
    Was the lwa of love and fertility, Ezili, mad at me for that?
  12. incapable
    lacking ability
    Matant Jo misses you so much that she is incapable of doing anything for herself.
  13. hover
    hang in the air; fly or be suspended above
    Chantal’s clock says it’s three thirty in the morning, and Bad Leg’s voice eases through the locked windows and thick curtains to hover above my air mattress.
  14. limelight
    a lamp consisting of a flame directed at a cylinder of lime
    Chantal’s window faces the front of the house, so I see Bad Leg to the far left, still sitting on the overturned plastic bucket with a streetlight shining over him like a limelight.
  15. intact
    undamaged in any way
    My left leg was still intact, all right, but its soul was all gone. Couldn’t move it, bend it, kick.
  16. perspective
    a way of regarding situations or topics
    “Smart cookie. It’s always good to get an inside perspective, you know?”
  17. labyrinth
    complex system of paths in which it is easy to get lost
    But my smile quickly fades as I realize that Papa Legba may open doors, but sometimes he leads you through a labyrinth.
  18. embassy
    a building where diplomats live or work
    “But the American embassy gave her a visa. She didn’t do anything wrong,” I insist.
  19. expedite
    speed up the progress of; facilitate
    “Fabiola, we can get her out. And we can expedite the process for her to obtain a green card. She won’t have to hide once she’s here. She can live and work legally. Isn’t that what she wants? What you both want?”
  20. outwit
    beat through cleverness
    I remember how Manman would outwit those vagabon in suits who would offer expedited visas in exchange for things that are not meant to be given away for visas.
  21. chaotic
    completely unordered and unpredictable and confusing
    Bottom line: no one around here is gonna talk. So this all becomes like some sort of chaotic cycle.
  22. idle
    run disconnected
    He starts the car but lets it idle.
  23. opera
    a drama set to music
    The café across the street from the opera house.
  24. comprehension
    an ability to understand the meaning of something
    “Who said I was talking about you? Did you hear me say Fabulous? No. See? You need to work on your English comprehension.”
  25. glimmer
    a slight suggestion or vague understanding
    But how could I even have a glimmer of happiness right now with my mother in jail for no reason?
  26. gossip
    light informal conversation for social occasions
    If my mother didn’t cook, we’d go to a neighbor’s house to get a plate of food in exchange for good neighborhood gossip.
  27. pita
    round flatbread that can open into a pocket for filling
    I don’t like the pita bread, and the bean dip is too cold. Hummus, they call it.
  28. hummus
    a thick spread made from mashed chickpeas
    I don’t like the pita bread, and the bean dip is too cold. Hummus, they call it.
  29. devour
    eat immoderately
    Kasim devours a chicken breast topped with cabbage and pickles and other things I can’t identify.
  30. refreshing
    imparting vitality and energy
    Coca-Cola or Pepsi is only refreshing at the end of a long hot day.
  31. literate
    able to read and write
    You’re asking me if I’m literate?
  32. discomfort
    an uneasy feeling of mental painfulness or distress
    I smile on the inside because I want to hold on to this bit of discomfort between us for a while.
  33. kingpin
    the most important person in a group or undertaking
    But I ain’t no kingpin, know what I’m saying? So it’s just favors here and there.
  34. caress
    touch or stroke lightly in a loving or endearing manner
    I let his eyes caress me, until he reaches over to move my braid away from my cheek.
  35. proposition
    a suggestion offered for acceptance or rejection
    Everything and everyone swims around my mind like ghosts in a haunted house—the detective lady and her proposition...
  36. cyclone
    an atmospheric system in which air circulates rapidly
    I watch it bend and stretch like a slow-turning cyclone until it stops at the street signs—where Joy Road meets American Street.
  37. stagnant
    not circulating or flowing
    It’s beginning to feel as if I’m speaking to stagnant air—the spirits are just standing there without delivering my message to God.
  38. brutality
    the trait of extreme cruelty
    “Oh, y’all got police brutality, too?”
  39. abroad
    to or in a foreign country
    I had to fight a lot, because people knew we were getting money from family abroad.
  40. anatomy
    the study of the structure of animals
    My anatomy & physiology class tells me how the human body works, but it can’t tell me how the human mind works—not the brain, but the thoughts and memories.
  41. physiology
    the science dealing with the functioning of organisms
    My anatomy & physiology class tells me how the human body works, but it can’t tell me how the human mind works—not the brain, but the thoughts and memories.
  42. alien
    a person who comes from a foreign country
    According to my papers, I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m not a citizen. I’m a “resident alien.”
  43. substantiate
    establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts
    “There are some interesting ideas here, but they’re unsubstantiated. You need to gather some sources, use quotes, and add a ‘Works Cited’ page. Use textual evidence.”
  44. textual
    relating to or based on writing
    “There are some interesting ideas here, but they’re unsubstantiated. You need to gather some sources, use quotes, and add a ‘Works Cited’ page. Use textual evidence.”
  45. revolutionary
    advocating or engaged in overthrow of the government
    I feel attacked because I wrote down everything I knew about the Haitian revolutionary hero Toussaint L’Ouverture and why he is important to me.
Created on November 27, 2017 (updated December 5, 2017)

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