Chapters 15-20

After the sudden death of her seemingly perfect sister, Julia tries to learn more about her sister's life while negotiating complicated family relationships.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. rustle
    a light noise, like the noise of leaves blowing in the wind
    I couldn’t sleep for days, convinced that every squeak or rustle meant that La Llorona was coming to drag me by the hair and kill me in the river.
  2. contraband
    goods whose trade or possession is prohibited by law
    We’d eat one in secret every day after school, as if the candy were some sort of high-stakes contraband.
  3. flashback
    an unexpected but vivid recurrence of a past experience
    When I get these flashbacks, I feel like someone scooped my soul out and trampled it on the dirty ground.
  4. usurp
    seize and take control without authority
    And because they were still hungry and didn’t want to waste food, they picked the hot dogs off the grass and ate them right before a flock of seagulls usurped them.
  5. erratic
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    Sometimes they act kind of erratic, which scares me a little, like the time they were convinced we should crash a party even though the host threatened to kill Juanga over his ex-boyfriend last year.
  6. sequester
    set apart from others
    ...she’s going to lose her mind if she’s sequestered in her apartment any longer.
  7. enticing
    highly attractive and able to arouse hope or desire
    I’m usually up for an adventure, and I’m bored, too, but the idea of being all wet and cold is not at all enticing.
  8. quarry
    a surface excavation for extracting stone or slate
    There are no real hills in Chicago, but the park used to be a quarry, so it has a decent slope.
  9. embroider
    decorate with needlework
    “Oh my God, look at this,” Connor says, and holds up an embroidered sweater with three cats on it, something an old lady would wear.
  10. belle
    a young woman considered charming and beautiful
    “I think you should do it. You will be the belle of the ball.”
  11. vermin
    any of various small animals or insects that are pests
    “Ah, I see. Well, let’s get you some chocolate, and then I will inspect you for vermin.” Connor says, and pretends to pick a bug out of my hair.
  12. ordeal
    a severe or trying experience
    I like makeup and dresses, and I will shave my legs and armpits, but everything else is such an ordeal.
  13. loom
    hang over, as of something threatening, dark, or menacing
    The houses are massive, and the streets are lined with looming trees.
  14. precision
    the quality of being reproducible in amount or performance
    Bushes and hedges are trimmed with a precision that seems almost silly.
  15. tattered
    worn to shreds; or wearing torn or ragged clothing
    He’s wearing a Foo Fighters T-shirt, pajama pants, and a pair of moccasins—total suburban white boy—but he’s so hot, I’d like him even if he wore a tattered garbage sack.
  16. skeptical
    marked by or given to doubt
    “Yeah, I’m sure.” I nod.
    Connor looks skeptical.
  17. strut
    walk in a proud, confident way
    You can strut around wearing a crown, throw some confetti or something.
  18. raspy
    unpleasantly harsh or grating in sound
    “Sorry,” he says, his voice raspy.
  19. ransack
    search thoroughly
    I can’t leave the apartment again because Amá decided to ransack my room to make sure I didn’t have anything else that might be considered scandalous or immoral.
  20. immoral
    deliberately violating principles of right and wrong
    I can’t leave the apartment again because Amá decided to ransack my room to make sure I didn’t have anything else that might be considered scandalous or immoral.
  21. repercussion
    a remote or indirect consequence of some action
    I don’t care about the repercussions.
  22. inhumane
    reflecting a lack of pity or compassion
    The cold here feels barbaric, inhumane.
  23. amphitheater
    an oval large stadium with tiers of seats
    The amphitheater is completely deserted, so it’s almost peaceful. The silver architecture looks kind of ridiculous to me, like a spaceship and spiderweb fused together, but everyone always takes pictures of it like it’s some sort of masterpiece.
  24. ruddy
    inclined to a healthy reddish color
    “Go home, go home, go home,” I tell myself, but I just stand there, watching a blond boy with ruddy cheeks skate in a tiny circle until his mother yells that it’s time for them to leave.
  25. pummel
    strike, usually with the fist
    I have a headache so deep it feels like someone pummeled my brain with a meat tenderizer.
  26. disoriented
    having lost your bearings
    I feel a little disoriented by all the translating.
  27. lobotomy
    surgery on nerves to and from the frontal lobe of the brain
    I rub my temples with my fingers. “Why does my head hurt so much? Did you give me a lobotomy?”
  28. traumatic
    psychologically painful
    “Have you ever thought about how it might feel for him to leave his family and come to live in the United States? I imagine that could have been traumatic for him. Well, for both of them.”
  29. demented
    affected with madness or insanity
    I’m afraid of what Luis is going to say because he has a demented look in his eyes.
  30. wispy
    thin and weak
    When I head over to the water fountain, Antwon, the new kid with a wispy Afro, comes up to me and asks me to be his girlfriend.
  31. consistently
    in a systematic or steady manner
    “Do you think the feeling will ever go away? Do you think it’s possible that we can be normal people who can be consistently happy?”
  32. fjord
    a long narrow inlet of the sea between steep cliffs
    Then we jumped on a ferry to Scandinavia and took a tour of the fjords.
  33. heist
    the act of stealing
    Then we were forced to be part of an international heist.
  34. pelt
    attack and bombard with or as if with missiles
    “I don’t see what the big deal is, and yet I feel guilty. I have these two competing feelings, you know? Like, logically, I think it’s okay, but it still makes me feel like I’ve committed a crime or something, like everyone will know and pelt me with stones.”
  35. sift
    distinguish and separate out
    As I sift through my stuff to see the damage, I remember Olga’s receipt.
  36. callus
    cause a thick or hard area of skin to form on
    “Good! That is what I want to hear, mija. Don’t work like a donkey, like the rest of your family.” He shows me his callused hands, then looks at mine. “Look at you! You have rich-lady hands.”
  37. stark
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    The Sierra Madre mountains are so stark and impossibly tall that they fill me with an inexplicable panic.
  38. inexplicable
    incapable of being explained or accounted for
    The Sierra Madre mountains are so stark and impossibly tall that they fill me with an inexplicable panic.
  39. adobe
    sun-dried brick used in hot dry climates
    The house is a brighter shade of pink than the last time I was there, and some of the adobe is cracked.
  40. pariah
    a person who is rejected from society or home
    My family back home never treats me this way because I’m the designated pariah.
  41. tripe
    lining of the stomach of a cow (used as food)
    Mamá Jacinta teaches me how to make the menudo they sell near the town square. Unlike the porqueria of other cities and states, her version is made with meat, leg bones, and maíz. That’s it. No chile rojo to hide the dirty tripe.
  42. inevitably
    in such a manner as could not be otherwise
    The raw meat has a strong animal smell, and as you slice and slice, the tissue inevitably gets under your nails, and the scent lingers on your hands for hours.
  43. customary
    in accordance with convention
    Maybe it wasn’t customary to smile for portraits back then.
  44. tarnish
    make or become dirty or dull, as by exposure to air
    I don’t find much, though, just a wooden chest with faded flowered dresses and tarnished bracelets.
  45. tumor
    an abnormal new mass of tissue that serves no purpose
    My grandfather got a tumor that ate away his lungs, and my grandma followed him a few months later.
Created on January 27, 2018 (updated January 30, 2018)

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