"Lucky Broken Girl" by Ruth Behar, Parts I and II

Recent immigrants from Cuba, Ruthie and her family are just learning to adjust to life in New York City when Ruthie is severely injured in a car accident. This novel, based in part on the author's childhood experiences, won the 2018 Pura Belpré Award.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Parts I and II, Part III, Parts IV and V
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. incense
    a substance that produces a fragrant odor when burned
    “Yes, it is. And my mother burns sandalwood incense. She says it’s good for meditation and the spirits like it too.”
  2. meditation
    contemplation of spiritual matters
    “Yes, it is. And my mother burns sandalwood incense. She says it’s good for meditation and the spirits like it too.”
  3. ragged
    being or dressed in clothes that are worn or torn
    A little ragged girl arrives and announces, “I’ve come to help the princess cry.”
  4. lopsided
    turned or twisted toward one side
    Mrs. Sarota wears her hair in a big bird nest on top of her head and today it’s lopsided.
  5. commiserate
    feel or express sympathy or compassion
    “Very well, young lady. Which of you can spell the word ‘ commiserate’?”
  6. sophisticated
    having worldly knowledge and refinement
    Danielle is from Belgium and acts very sophisticated.
  7. beige
    of a light grayish-brown color
    Today she has on a lace-trimmed beige blouse and a pleated blue skirt.
  8. drab
    lacking brightness or color; dull
    Danielle crosses the street, walking so elegantly in her black go-go boots to a building as drab and dreary as ours.
  9. dreary
    lacking in liveliness or charm or surprise
    Danielle crosses the street, walking so elegantly in her black go-go boots to a building as drab and dreary as ours.
  10. accent
    distinctive manner of oral expression
    She says the word “hopscotch,” extending the shhhh sound at the end of the word with a French accent and it sounds glamorous.
  11. glamorous
    having an air of allure, romance and excitement
    She says the word “hopscotch,” extending the shhhh sound at the end of the word with a French accent and it sounds glamorous.
  12. accordion
    a portable box-shaped free-reed instrument
    And every morning, she turns it back into a sofa, folding it up like an accordion.
  13. peddler
    someone who travels about selling his wares
    She misses standing on the balcony and lowering the basket down with a rope for the peddler to fill with pineapples and coconuts.
  14. frilly
    having decorative ruffles or similar ornamentation
    I decide to put on my frilly dress that has layers of lace.
  15. challah
    (Judaism) a braided loaf of white bread containing eggs
    We aren’t very religious, but today Mami bought a challah.
  16. dingy
    gloomy or depressing
    I’m breaking my back taking the subway every day! Working all week in a dingy office that has no windows and is the size of a jail cell where they treat me like I’m nobody!
  17. maraca
    a rattle-like instrument that is shaken to make noise
    The store is under the Number 7 train and rattles like a maraca.
  18. calico
    coarse cloth with a bright print
    She squeezes my hand with both of hers, which are rough from cutting calico and canvas all day.
  19. canvas
    a heavy, closely woven fabric
    She squeezes my hand with both of hers, which are rough from cutting calico and canvas all day.
  20. pudgy
    short and plump
    She has tiny gold balls in her pierced ears and a gold bracelet that says “Rosa” wrapped around her pudgy wrist.
  21. stern
    of a strict bearing or demeanor; forbidding in aspect
    Papi nods with a stern gaze.
  22. peer
    look searchingly
    I curl my legs under me so as not to crowd Izzie and peer up at the roof of the car.
  23. torpedo
    a long cylindrical self-propelled underwater projectile
    He kneels next to me and says, “I saw it! I saw a car flip the divider! It turned into a torpedo! I saw it crash into the car in front of us! Then we crashed into them. Then a bunch of cars crashed into us! Bam, bam, bam.”
  24. splint
    a medical device to immobilize and protect a body part
    “But she’s tangled up in metal. This is going to take a while. Put a splint on that girl. Take her and her family to the hospital. See if any of them can speak English.”
  25. slab
    block consisting of a thick piece of something
    He brings out a slab of wood from the ambulance.
  26. topple
    fall down, as if collapsing
    Mami and Baba and Izzie and Papi stand around me like bowling pins about to topple over.
  27. commotion
    a disorderly outburst or tumult
    Then there’s a big commotion.
  28. stammer
    speak haltingly
    “It hurts, it hurts,” I stammer as loud as I can to get his attention.
  29. contraption
    a device or control that is very useful for a particular job
    “Or are you pretending? How about if I untie you from this contraption and take you home?”
  30. wince
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    I wince and he says to me, “Hurts, doesn’t it?”
  31. anesthesia
    loss of bodily sensation
    “We’re going to give you anesthesia and you won’t feel a thing.”
  32. lilting
    characterized by a buoyant rhythm
    He has a kind and lilting voice.
  33. rickety
    inclined to shake as from weakness or defect
    Mami is crouched on the rickety bench next to me.
  34. peasant
    a country person
    She’s wearing bell-bottom pants and a peasant blouse with puffy sleeves, and she has shiny dangling earrings.
  35. remedial
    tending or intended to rectify or improve
    “Far-out,” Joy says after I get all the words right. “You’re so smart! I’m surprised they kept you in the remedial class for so long.”
  36. wade
    walk through relatively shallow water
    I could wade into the deep end without being afraid.
  37. brine
    water containing salts
    There was the ocean on all sides, endless, and the smell of salt and brine was so strong all the food tasted like a sour pickle.
  38. refugee
    an exile who flees for safety
    We thought our home would always be in Cuba...and then we had to leave Cuba and come here to New York. I have been a refugee not once but twice.
  39. sleuth
    a detective who follows a trail
    And there she comes, strawberry-haired Nancy Drew, the girl sleuth, so American and so sure of herself, wearing a round collared blouse and a pencil skirt, wielding her magnifying glass.
  40. intriguing
    capable of arousing interest or curiosity
    Nancy Drew smiles down at me, raising an eyebrow. “It certainly sounds intriguing! And I’ve been longing for another case!”

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