"Internment" by Samira Ahmed, Chapters 1–3

Layla Amin thinks of herself as a typical American teenager. But when Muslim-Americans like Layla and her family are forcibly relocated to internment camps, the seventeen-year-old decides to fight for her freedom.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–3, Chapters 4–6, Chapters 7–16, Chapters 17–22, Chapters 23–28, Chapters 29–36

Here is a link to our lists for Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed.
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. virulent
    harsh or corrosive in tone
    Two months since a virulent Islamophobe was sworn in as secretary of war—a cabinet position that hasn’t existed since World War II.
  2. personnel
    group of people willing to obey orders
    But you’d be surprised how quickly armed military personnel and pepper spray shut down the well-meaning protests of liberals in small, leafy towns.
  3. mainstream
    the prevailing current of thought
    They’re still happening, the protests-turned-riots, even though the mainstream media won’t cover them.
  4. uncanny
    surpassing the ordinary or normal
    Technically, I’m not doing anything wrong, not yet, but if the police stop me—well, let’s just say they have an uncanny ability to make technicalities disappear.
  5. technicality
    a detail that is considered insignificant
    Technically, I’m not doing anything wrong, not yet, but if the police stop me—well, let’s just say they have an uncanny ability to make technicalities disappear.
  6. superimpose
    place on top of
    The words are superimposed on a cascade of banned books, dangerous books.
  7. headlong
    with the upper or anterior part of the body foremost
    A hard knot forms in my stomach, but I keep walking, eyes still on the poster, and bump headlong into a woman rushing in the opposite direction.
  8. deferential
    showing courteous regard for people's feelings
    I try to be polite, deferential.
  9. tenure
    give life-time employment to
    My dad teaches poetry and writing. Did teach, I should say. Until he was fired—mysteriously deemed unqualified for the tenured professorship he’d had for over a decade.
  10. applique
    sew on as a decoration
    He’s drawn the curtains in the small studio space—a white sofa piled high with navy-blue pillows, some with appliquéd anchors on them; a couple of overstuffed arm chairs; lots of faded pink and ivory seashells in mason jars; and, on the wall, a framed poster declaring LIFE’S A BEACH against white sand and cerulean sky and sea.
  11. cerulean
    deep blue like the color of a clear sky
    He’s drawn the curtains in the small studio space—a white sofa piled high with navy-blue pillows, some with appliquéd anchors on them; a couple of overstuffed arm chairs; lots of faded pink and ivory seashells in mason jars; and, on the wall, a framed poster declaring LIFE’S A BEACH against white sand and cerulean sky and sea.
  12. diorama
    a picture representing a continuous scene
    It would be a perfect moment to freeze in time and make into a little diorama that I could inhabit for an eternity.
  13. spree
    a brief indulgence of your impulses
    My dad badgered us into watching Doctor Who, starting with the old-school episodes, and we got hooked. Since then we’ve had on-and-off binge-watching sprees.
  14. euphemism
    an inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one
    Bonfire? Let’s not use euphemisms. They’re burning books in the school parking lot.
  15. acrid
    strong and sharp, as a taste or smell
    We race across the lawn, an acrid burning smell heavy in the night air.
  16. clandestine
    conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods
    As I approach my yard, it dawns on me that I might be able to outrun the person who was chasing us, but no matter how fast I sprint, I can’t escape this new reality of curfews and clandestine meetings and cinders rising in the air.
  17. juxtaposed
    placed side by side often for comparison
    I’m smacked with the smell of frying onions and adrak lehsan. The smell of home juxtaposed with the sweaty, breathless odor of desperation and the taste of rust in my mouth.
  18. synapse
    the junction between two neurons
    She’s like me; I know that her synapses must be on rapid fire, but my mom’s practiced meditation for years.
  19. acquiescence
    acceptance without protest
    I’m not sure Dad believes me, but he accepts my nod as acquiescence.
  20. mirth
    great merriment
    He gives me a mirthless smile and walks toward my mom.
  21. duress
    compulsory force or threat
    “Beta, I spoke out of fear, out of an instinct to protect you and your mom. And I do want to protect you, but I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to think, even for a minute, that hiding who we are would have been the right answer. Taqiyya, concealing our religion, is forgivable, but only under extreme duress—only to save lives. And the census was hardly a life-threatening situation. Look at Hazrat Summayah. If she didn’t conceal her faith, it hardly seems acceptable for us to do so.”
  22. rehash
    discuss again; go back over
    “Layla. We made a choice. And it was the right one. What do you think you’re going to accomplish by rehashing it now? The past is the past.”
  23. holistic
    emphasizing the organic relation between parts and the whole
    So much of my dad’s poetry is about finding truth in small things. Of course he believes this. And my mom—her whole chiropractic practice is based on a holistic health approach to life.
  24. prevailing
    most frequent or common
    During the election, with paranoia and Islamophobia and isolationism as the prevailing themes, my parents held on to this hope.
  25. rile
    disturb, especially by minor irritations
    During the primary debates, when the now-president said on national television that there was justification and precedent for a Muslim registry, my parents, along with so many others, dismissed it as fearmongering, red meat to rile up the base.
  26. sleeper
    a spy or saboteur or terrorist planted in an enemy country
    When politicians seized on an attack at a French nightclub to warn about creeping Sharia and sleeper cells on US soil and polls began to favor the Muslim ban and the registry, so many of us said, “It can’t happen here.”
  27. rhetoric
    using language effectively to please or persuade
    But the lies, the rhetoric...the fake news, the false statistics, all gave those well-meaning people who say they’re not bigots cover to vote for a man who openly tweeted his hatred of us on a nearly daily basis.
  28. superlative
    an exaggerated expression, usually of praise
    It’s not loud enough for me to hear, but every National Security Address hits the same notes. America First. Lots of euphemisms and misplaced superlatives.
  29. saccharine
    overly sweet
    Saccharine sentimentality isn’t going to stop me from feeling helpless and terrified.
  30. sentimentality
    the quality of being falsely emotional in a maudlin way
    Saccharine sentimentality isn’t going to stop me from feeling helpless and terrified.
  31. flourish
    a display of ornamental speech or language
    My father is homeschooling me, and he insists we follow the curriculum. He also likes to add his own flourishes, hence all the poetry—right now it’s Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
  32. emblazon
    decorate with colors
    A dark van with a black-and-white logo emblazoned on the door parks behind my mom’s sedan.
  33. viscous
    having a relatively high resistance to flow
    Suit #2 draws a gun, and suddenly time slows down, like it’s viscous, and my entire body is drenched in sweat.
  34. vest
    provide with power and authority
    Suit #1 speaks, his voice a taut wire. “Under order of the Exclusion Authority and by the powers vested in the secretary of war under Presidential Order 1455, we are here to serve notice and carry out your relocation.”
  35. beholden
    under a moral obligation to someone
    Time is beholden to neither love nor tyrant.

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