"Looking For Alaska" by John Green, Before: 84-0 Days

Tired of his life at home, Miles Halter leaves for boarding school where he meets (and falls in love with) the impulsive and unpredictable Alaska Young. But when tragedy strikes, Miles begins to question his relationship with Alaska.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Before: 136-87 Days, Before: 84-0 Days, After

Here are links to our lists for other books by John Green: An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, The Fault in Our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. perpetual
    uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
    By the third day, I abandoned my umbrella entirely and walked around in a perpetual state of wetness.
  2. syllabus
    an integrated course of academic studies
    Now, I’m quite sure that you’ve all read the syllabus for this class with such frequency and seriousness that by now you’ve committed it to memory.
  3. exclusively
    without any others being included or involved
    The miracle, at least in that time and in that place, was that Jesus—a peasant, a Jew, a nobody in an empire ruled exclusively by somebodies—was the son of that God, the all-powerful God of Abraham and Moses.
  4. delirium
    a usually brief state of excitement and mental confusion
    Or Robert E. Lee, who, many years after the war, in a dying delirium, announced, “Strike the tent!”
  5. ingenious
    showing inventiveness and skill
    And that’s pretty ingenious, to divert water from the gutter to her room.
  6. unpredictability
    the quality of being guided by sudden impulses
    I didn’t know whether to trust Alaska, and I’d certainly had enough of her unpredictability--
  7. irresistible
    overpoweringly attractive
    —cold one day, sweet the next; irresistibly flirty one moment, resistibly obnoxious the next.
  8. endeavor
    earnest and conscientious activity intended to do something
    Although she certainly does not excel at endeavors such as teaching the French language, Madame O’Malley makes a mean stuffing, and she invites all the students who stay on campus to Thanksgiving dinner.
  9. persist
    refuse to stop
    I hated cranberry sauce, but for some reason my mom persisted in her lifelong belief that it was my very favorite food, even though every single Thanksgiving I politely declined to include it on my plate.
  10. discontent
    a longing for something better than the present situation
    The snow may be falling in the winter of my discontent, but at least I’ve got sarcastic company.
  11. overwrought
    deeply agitated especially from emotion
    I’d always found the Colonel’s I-hate-the-rich routine a little overwrought until I saw him with his mom.
  12. context
    the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation
    He was the same Colonel, but in a totally different context.
  13. gratitude
    a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation
    We laughed and drank our wine, and then after the meal, we each listed our gratitudes.
  14. monotonous
    tediously repetitious or lacking in variety
    I sat in the back of the hatchback on the drive home—and that is how I thought of it: home—and fell asleep to the highway’s monotonous lullaby.
  15. contraband
    goods whose trade or possession is prohibited by law
    Alaska went in alone and walked out the door five minutes later weighed down by two paper bags filled with contraband: three cartons of cigarettes, five bottles of wine, and a fifth of vodka for the Colonel.
  16. tsunami
    a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave
    “I don’t. . .” she started, and then a sob came like a tsunami, her cry so loud and childlike that it scared me, and I got up, sat down next her, and put my arm around her.
  17. worthwhile
    sufficiently valuable to justify the investment of time
    I wish I could say I was in it for the thrill of learning, but mostly I was in it for the thrill of getting into a worthwhile college.
  18. sentimental
    effusively or insincerely emotional
    Even my dad, who is affectionate but not, like, sentimental, randomly, while we were watching The Simpsons, said he missed me.
  19. syndrome
    a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease
    When I left, they both cried, my mom explaining that it was just empty-nest syndrome, that they were just so proud of me, that they loved me so much.
  20. minion
    a servile or fawning dependant
    "What we need is a pre-prank that coincides with an attack on Kevin and his minions,” she said.
  21. lull
    calm by deception
    “A prank designed to lull the administration into a false sense of security,” the Colonel answered, annoyed by the distraction.
  22. angst
    an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety
    This never happened to me in Florida, this oh-so-high-school angst about who likes whom more, and I hated myself for letting it happen now.
  23. doctrine
    a belief accepted as authoritative by some group or school
    Buddhists are more complicated—because of the Buddha’s doctrine of anatta, which basically says that people don’t have eternal souls.
  24. transitory
    lasting a very short time
    Instead, they have a bundle of energy, and that bundle of energy is transitory, migrating from one body to another, reincarnating endlessly until it eventually reaches enlightenment.
  25. dilapidated
    in a state of decay, ruin, or deterioration
    We walked on the dirt road over the bridge and back to the school’s barn, a dilapidated leak-prone structure that looked more like a long-abandoned log cabin than a barn.
  26. flagrant
    conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
    Everybody was sitting on sleeping bags, Alaska smoking with flagrant disregard for the overwhelming flammability of the structure, when the Colonel pulled out a single piece of computer paper and read from it.
  27. havoc
    violent and needless disturbance
    We’re just, you know, wreaking a little havoc.
  28. complacency
    the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself
    He was trying to lull us into complacency, but it would not work.
  29. traipse
    walk or tramp about
    You’ll say that while you were traipsing through the woods lighting firecrackers you were simultaneously hacking into the faculty network and printing out false progress reports on school stationery?
  30. undeniable
    not possible to contradict
    It was an undeniable fact: The Colonel would have no chance at a scholarship to a good school if he got expelled from the Creek.
  31. expulsion
    the act of forcing out someone or something
    For me, it was just fun, particularly since we were risking expulsion.
  32. illicit
    contrary to or forbidden by law
    The nice thing about the constant threat of expulsion at Culver Creek is that it lends excitement to every moment of illicit pleasure.
  33. intentional
    done or made or performed with purpose and intent
    I didn’t think it was lame so much as more of Alaska’s intentional vagueness, another example of her furthering her own mysteriousness.
  34. confront
    oppose, as in hostility or a competition
    When the Eagle confronted her with expulsion, maybe she blurted out Marya’s name because it was the first that came to mind, because in that moment she didn’t want to get expelled and couldn’t think past that moment.
  35. precarious
    not secure; beset with difficulties
    A dozen white tulips in a plastic vase were precariously perched atop one of the book stacks, and when I asked her about them, she just said, “Jake and my’s anniversary,” and I didn’t care to continue that line of dialogue, so I went back to scanning titles, and I was just wondering how I could go about learning Edgar Allan Poe’s last words (for the record: “Lord help my poor soul”) when I heard Alaska say, “Pudge isn’t even listening to us.”

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