Chapters 16–27

Dimple Shah is thrilled to be spending her summer studying web development at Stanford University — but she doesn't know that her traditional parents are planning for her to meet (and eventually marry!) fellow student Rishi Patel.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. infinitesimal
    immeasurably small
    There was an infinitesimal pause, just one tiny breath.
  2. mortification
    strong feelings of embarrassment
    His face went blank for a second, and then mortification overcame everything.
  3. stifle
    smother or suppress
    “I don’t know. I guess I think it’s sort of stifling. All those rules. You can’t date people who aren’t Indian. You can’t date, period, until you’re thirty.”
  4. tangential
    of superficial relevance if any
    “That does sound annoying. I guess I haven’t been through those rules, except for the first and second. But the thing is, those are tangential things. I’m talking about the big picture. The idea that we’re connected by this thread to people who live in the place where we came from. Where our parents came from. We have a blueprint for our lives. I think that makes it all seem comforting somehow. Safe.”
  5. ensconce
    fix firmly
    They passed a man ensconced in fog and playing the guitar.
  6. grudging
    unwilling or reluctant
    Dimple would never admit it, but she felt a grudging admiration for his kind of no-BS bravery.
  7. ebullient
    joyously unrestrained
    The thought of Dimple, here, made him feel strangely ebullient, like he was filled with champagne bubbles.
  8. impetus
    a force that makes something happen
    “But what about if they don’t track? What’s the impetus for them to begin tracking regularly in the first place?”
  9. stave off
    prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
    “Okay, what about if it's like something advancing on them? Like, the reward is that you get to stave off some big, bad boss guy coming for you the more you track. And if you get lazy or careless, you get killed.”
  10. reproachful
    expressing disapproval, blame, or disappointment
    Celia sat on her bed, propped up against her pillows, staring at Dimple reproachfully.
  11. meticulously
    in a manner marked by extreme care of details
    Celia groaned and clutched at her hair before meticulously smoothing it back down.
  12. heady
    extremely exciting as if by alcohol or a narcotic
    Dimple loved the buzz of energy, a slightly drunken, heady thing.
  13. sartorial
    of or relating to tailoring or clothing
    As they approached the sculpture, Rishi saw a sign in front of it that said SARTORIAL FORTUNE COOKIE BY YAEL BORGER, 2017.
  14. sepulchral
    gruesomely indicative of death or the dead
    Putting on a cheerful voice, he said, “Hi, Yael, how are you today?” And then, in a sepulchral intonation meant to be Yael, “You will die.”
  15. intonation
    rise and fall of the voice pitch
    Putting on a cheerful voice, he said, “Hi, Yael, how are you today?” And then, in a sepulchral intonation meant to be Yael, “You will die.”
  16. divulge
    make known to the public information previously kept secret
    It felt surreal, to see the man standing not ten yards away from him, after having hero-worshipped him from afar for nearly a decade, after having laughed at every YouTube joke. After having sent him embarrassing fan mail when he was eleven—not that he was about to divulge that piece of information to Dimple.
  17. inexorable
    impossible to persuade by means of pleas or reason
    Without distance, Rishi knew the inexorable love for his art, for creation, would suck him in and never let go.
  18. succinctly
    with concise and precise brevity; to the point
    How had she so quickly, so succinctly, verbalized everything he was feeling?
  19. placid
    not easily irritated
    He smiled, placid, as he observed some art student doing a live demonstration of pottery.
  20. proffer
    present for acceptance or rejection
    “Are you...okay?” she asked as he took a proffered flyer and then put it down at the next table without looking at it.
  21. wiry
    lean but strong
    They turned to see a wiry guy at a booth a few yards away.
  22. effusive
    extravagantly demonstrative
    He was about Rishi’s height, with spiked black hair and red wire-rimmed glasses, and was grinning, waving effusively.
  23. ado
    a great deal of fuss, concern, or commotion
    “And it all snowballs. You saw that—Kevin wanted me to apply there. Leo Tilden wanted to see my sketches. Much ado about nothing.”
  24. rite of passage
    a ritual performed when an individual changes status
    “Besides, just look at it as a social experiment. You have to go to at least one college party, right? It’s like a rite of passage. You can just get it out of the way now, with me as your guide.”
  25. baleful
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    Rishi tossed Dimple a baleful look over his shoulder, but he sat down and pulled out his sketch pad.
  26. monocle
    lens for correcting defective vision in one eye
    Dimple noticed people nudging each other, leaning in to get closer, to really take in the little details. Like how the sloth was wearing a monocle.
  27. sultry
    attractive and suggesting hidden passion
    Dimple batted her eyelashes at him and said, in a sultry voice she had no idea she was capable of, “Please, Rishi Patel?”
  28. bereft
    sorrowful through loss or deprivation
    Dimple giggled—giggled! A sound he’d never imagined leaving her mouth—and let her hand drop. Rishi was immediately bereft. “You should see your face.”
  29. sardonic
    disdainfully or ironically humorous
    He could feel her watching him in that sardonic, Dimple way she had—eyes calculating, eyebrows slightly furrowed.
  30. respite
    a relief from harm or discomfort
    They made their way to a grove of bushes off to the right, the breeze just cool enough to provide some respite from the thick, soupy heat of bodies inside.
  31. encroach
    impinge or infringe upon
    Dimple sat beside him, her arms and legs stiff, as if she were afraid of encroaching on his personal space, of touching him.
  32. benign
    pleasant and beneficial in nature or influence
    Before, scraping elbows together or grabbing her hand had seemed benign, just exciting enough without being serious or scary.
  33. alcove
    a small recess opening off a larger room
    But here in this private little alcove in the dark, things felt more.
  34. inhibition
    the quality of being held back
    But looking at Dimple’s open face, hearing her earnest questions, his usual inhibitions turned to puffs of cloud, insubstantial, floating away as he tried to grasp them.
  35. consume
    engage fully
    “I would love to do what you’re doing. To immerse myself in the work, to think, breathe, eat, and sleep art. But that's how it’d have to be. See? There’s no in between for me. I can’t be an engineer and a part-time comic book artist. It can’t be a hobby. I love it too much; it means too much to me. It’s like, like having a child, I guess. How I imagine that would be—all consuming.”
  36. frugal
    avoiding waste
    “Do it. Do what you love, what you’re passionate about. So what if it’s not the most practical thing? You’re eighteen, you don’t have to be practical for a long, long time—maybe not ever, if you choose not to be. There are people who live very frugally, who just keep plugging away for years because they can’t think of doing it any other way.”
  37. reverential
    feeling or manifesting profound respect or awe
    Rishi nodded, and she took the sketch pad, setting it carefully on her lap. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, turned on a flashlight app, and set it on the bench between them. Then, almost reverentially, she began lifting the cover.
  38. commandeer
    take arbitrarily or by force
    But when he got inside, Rishi saw the guests had commandeered the interior lobby too.
  39. sidle
    move sideways
    After a pause, the girl hopped off her chair and came up to the table, sidling into the chair across from him.
  40. nonchalantly
    in a composed and unconcerned manner
    “How do you know how to do that?”
    Rishi shrugged nonchalantly. “Picked it up.”
Created on September 22, 2018 (updated November 6, 2018)

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