"One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia, List 1

In the summer of 1968, three sisters travel to California to visit their estranged mother. While there, they learn about the fight for equality and civil rights.

This list covers "Cassius Clay Clouds"–"Secret Agent Mother."

Here are links to our lists for the novel: List 1, List 2, List 3, List 4, List 5, List 6, List 7, List 8, List 9, List 10

Here are links to our lists for other other books by Rita Williams-Garcia: P.S. Be Eleven, Gone Crazy in Alabama, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

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definitions & notes only words
  1. brace
    prepare for something unpleasant or difficult
    Still, I anchored myself and my sisters best as I could to brace us for whatever came next.
  2. jab
    a quick short straight punch
    Those clouds weren’t through with us yet and dealt another Cassius Clay-left-and-a-right jab to the body of our Boeing 727.
  3. whimper
    a complaint uttered in a plaintive whining way
    I kept my whimper to myself.
  4. spectacle
    a blunder that makes you look ridiculous
    The last thing Pa and Big Ma wanted to hear was how we made a grand Negro spectacle of ourselves thirty thousand feet up in the air around all these white people.
  5. signature
    your name written in your own handwriting
    We saw ourselves riding wild waves on surf­ boards, picking oranges and apples off fruit trees, filling our autograph books with signatures from movie stars we’d see in soda shops.
  6. terminal
    station where vehicles load or unload passengers or goods
    Once inside the terminal, she let it all hang out.
  7. judgment
    an opinion formed critically
    Only judgment, and believe me, Big Ma had plenty of judgment for Cecile.
  8. riot
    a public act of violence by an unruly mob
    All them riots.
  9. announce
    make known
    A shrill voice had announced the departing flight to Oakland.
  10. depart
    move away from a place into another direction
    A shrill voice had announced the departing flight to Oakland.
  11. revival
    an evangelistic meeting to reawaken interest in religion
    Although I could at least keep still, Vonetta and Fern stamped their feet like holy rollers at a revival meeting.
  12. stranger
    an individual that one is not acquainted with
    She’d expected this stranger to say, as if she were a neighbor, “They’re as good as my own."
  13. embarrassment
    some event that causes someone to be humiliated
    I’ll make sure they don’t misbehave or be an embarrassment to the Negro race.
  14. glance
    take a brief look at
    I glanced at my Timex.
  15. responsible
    worthy of or requiring trust; held accountable
    Among the three of us, I was the only one responsible enough to keep and wear a wrist-watch.
  16. homely
    lacking in physical beauty or proportion
    Not plain as in homely plain, but even plain.
  17. steady
    securely in position; not shaky
    It kept bouncing and surging forward until the bouncing smoothed out and we were rolling against the ground, nice and steady.
  18. descent
    a movement downward
    The intercom crackled, and the pilot made an announcement about the descent and altitude and that we would be landing in ten minutes.
  19. immigrant
    a person who comes to a country in order to settle there
    The Chinese immigrants building the railroads connecting east to west.
  20. pout
    a disdainful grimace
    The truth was, one pout from either Vonetta or Fern and I would have given up the window seat.
  21. scold
    censure severely or angrily
    We would have been the grand Negro spectacle that Big Ma had scolded us against becoming when we were back in Brooklyn.
  22. spectacular
    sensational in appearance or thrilling in effect
    How many times would I be this high up and have a sight as spectacular as the Golden Gate Bridge right underneath me?
  23. disgrace
    bring shame or dishonor upon
    Even though there were only eight Negroes on board, counting my sisters and me, I had managed to disgrace the entire Negro race, judging by the head shaking and tsk-tsking going on around us.
  24. surge
    rise or move forward
    It kept bouncing and surging forward until the bouncing smoothed out and we were rolling against the ground, nice and steady.
  25. assign
    delegate a task to
    Vonetta, Fern, and I stood next to the young redheaded stewardess assigned to watch us until Cecile came forward.
  26. litter
    make a place messy by strewing garbage around
    They call it littering when you carelessly drop things.
  27. anxious
    eagerly desirous
    Not because she was anxious to meet Cecile.
  28. routine
    a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer one
    Vonetta asked again so she could have her routine rehearsed in her head—her curtsy, smile, and greeting—leaving Fern and me to stand around like dumb dodos.
  29. appalled
    struck with dread, shock, or dismay
    The redheaded stewardess was appalled by my uppity behavior.
  30. gawk
    look with amazement
    She thought it was all right to have the large white woman gawk at us, talk to us, and buy our attention.
  31. recite
    repeat aloud from memory
    I could see any thoughts Vonetta had about reciting poetry, tap-dancing, and curtsying vanished.
  32. poetry
    literature in metrical form
    I could see any thoughts Vonetta had about reciting poetry, tap-dancing, and curtsying vanished.
  33. barrier
    anything maintaining separation by obstructing access
    Once we were there, face-to-face, the stewardess stopped in her tracks and made herself a barrier between the strange woman and us.
  34. agent
    any representative of a federal bureau
    Cecile looked more like a secret agent than a mother.
  35. flee
    run away quickly
    She dropped the slip of paper on the floor, handed us over, and fled away on her wobbly high heels.
Created on February 21, 2013 (updated February 28, 2019)

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