Chapters 19–27

Ten-year-old Mia Tang lives and works at the motel where her immigrant parents are employed. Together, Mia and her family strive to make a better life for themselves — and for other immigrants in their community.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. bound
    confined or obligated by an oath
    Whereas before, we were best friends bound by lies, now we shared a secret truth.
  2. ledger
    a record in which commercial accounts are recorded
    Curious, I pulled out the ledger from the bottom drawer of the front desk.
  3. meticulous
    marked by precise accordance with details
    The ledger was this big black book my dad kept with meticulous records of how many customers we had each day.
  4. boggle
    startle or be overcome with amazement or fear
    I lined the numbers up neatly on my paper and started doing the math. My eyes boggled at the numbers: $12,000. That’s how much we made for Mr. Yao last month.
  5. imperial
    relating to or associated with an empire
    Mrs. Douglas told Jason and Stuart both to hush, and she started talking about the imperial era and Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.
  6. prompt
    give an incentive for action
    This prompted Jason to raise his hand.
  7. reprimand
    censure severely or angrily
    As Mrs. Douglas reprimanded Jason for calling Stuart a moron, I sat very quietly in my seat.
  8. nostalgic
    unhappy about being away and longing for familiar things
    Then she became all nostalgic. “You know when I was your age, I used to eavesdrop on my brother’s math lessons....”
  9. preposterous
    inviting ridicule
    “English writing?” she asked, like it was the most preposterous thing in the world, like I’d just said basket weaving.
  10. sheepish
    showing a sense of shame
    My dad sheepishly admitted that he didn’t know, he had been sleeping, to which Mr. Yao frowned and said, “Stop sleeping!”
  11. shrill
    being sharply insistent on being heard
    Mrs. Q put a hand to her chest and let out a shrill “Good God!”
  12. interject
    insert between other elements
    “But you’re asking the wrong people!” I interjected.
  13. rile
    disturb, especially by minor irritations
    The more I thought about it, the more riled up I got.
  14. faze
    disturb the composure of
    But Hank just sat there, quiet and unfazed, gazing in the general direction of the pool.
  15. downcast
    directed toward a lower place
    I stared at the flowers, so warm and bright in my downcast hands.
  16. sly
    marked by skill in deception
    “Heard you guys got a little visit from the cops,” he said. A sly grin stretched across his face.
  17. understatement
    something said in a restrained way for ironic contrast
    The Topaz Inn people did not like us, and we didn’t like them. To say that we had a little rivalry was an understatement.
  18. prejudiced
    showing bias or bigotry or influenced by preconceived ideas
    Lupe put her pencil down and gave me a look. “The thing about prejudice is you can’t tell people not to be prejudiced. You’ve got to show them. It’s like writing.”
  19. sprawl
    go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way
    The addresses sprawled as far south as San Diego and as far north as Sacramento.
  20. famished
    extremely hungry
    Aunt Ling was a friend of Uncle Li’s, and she was so famished, she practically inhaled the dumplings my mother made at dinner.
  21. bashful
    self-consciously timid
    “Oh, that’s very nice of you, but it’s not necessary,” my mother said bashfully, tucking her hands under her armpit to hide them from Aunt Ling.
  22. reluctantly
    with a certain degree of unwillingness
    Reluctantly, my mom put her hands out in front.
  23. grimace
    contort the face to indicate a certain mental state
    “Oh, that’s hard,” my mom said, grimacing. “We’ve been there.”
  24. wary
    marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    I looked at her, wary.
  25. skulk
    move stealthily
    When at last the school bell rang, I skulked home, my legs like Jell-O, my feet cement blocks.
Created on January 29, 2019 (updated January 29, 2019)

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