Chapters 1–18

Twelve-year-old Shayla doesn't like to make waves—but as she navigates middle school and educates herself about prejudice in her community, she learns that sometimes it's good to cause a little trouble.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. grimace
    a contorted facial expression
    He catches me looking at him, and his mouth shifts into a mean grimace.
  2. devious
    indirect in departing from the accepted or proper way
    I just bet partnering me with Bernard is some devious experiment: what happens if we mix trouble-hating girl with bully boy?
  3. peer
    look searchingly
    The top slide has a tiny green-brown thing on it, and when I peer through the microscope, I can see it’s a bug leg.
  4. splotch
    mark with spots or spatters
    We’re all wearing low-top black Converses. Julia’s are really worn out, and Isabella’s are splotched with purple paint.
  5. expression
    a word or phrase that people use in particular situations
    “When someone says, Know what I’m saying? it’s not like a real question,” Julia explains. “It’s an expression.”
  6. doom
    make certain of the failure or destruction of
    “Well, you’re doomed,” Julia says matter-of-factly, like she’s all ready for my funeral.
  7. practical
    concerned with actual use
    They’re big and white and practical.
  8. funky
    having an offensive or unpleasant smell
    We both head to the water fountain, and I’m wondering if putting deodorant on sweaty pits will keep me from being funky later, when Coach West walks over.
  9. exasperated
    greatly annoyed; out of patience
    “Isn’t there anyone who can tell me something about him?” Her exasperated voice has become full-on irritated.
  10. abolitionist
    a reformer who favors putting an end to slavery
    “It can be a bit dense. But I’m surprised you didn’t learn he was a passionate abolitionist, Shayla.”
  11. slump
    assume a drooping posture or carriage
    I slump in my seat and start picking at a tiny blob of ink stuck on my desk.
  12. assume
    take to be the case or to be true
    I hate when a teacher assumes that just because I’m Black, I’ll know all about slavery and civil rights and stuff like that.
  13. radical
    markedly new or introducing extreme change
    “It was a pretty radical belief for his time. That type of thinking wasn’t popular or well respected by many people back then. Emerson had to be fairly brave to be an abolitionist.”
  14. elective
    a course that the student can select from among alternatives
    Stacy ignores us and starts talking about how boring her computer elective is, and then everyone starts talking about their electives and how fun or awful they are.
  15. coordinated
    dexterous in using more than one set of muscle movements
    She knows I’m not very coordinated, but come on. I can run, at least.
  16. rivet
    fasten with a metal fastener
    It’s a small rectangle of metal, and I have to hit it over and over again with a riveting hammer until it is completely covered with little round divots.
  17. whisk
    move somewhere quickly
    Momma likes to pick me up after the long line of cars in the drop-off/pick-up zone has cleared out so she can just whisk to the curb.
  18. barge
    push one's way
    My sister barges into my room whenever she feels like it, but if I go into her room without knocking, she cuts my head off.
  19. rifle
    go through in search of something
    Hana’s smile gets wide, but then she looks at me like I caught her rifling through Momma’s purse, and she frowns at me.
  20. interject
    insert between other elements
    “Your father just means a lot—”
    “Most,” Daddy interjects.
  21. arthropod
    invertebrate having jointed limbs and a segmented body
    “Are butterflies arthropods?” I ask.
  22. cackle
    a loud laugh suggestive of a hen's sound after laying an egg
    Bernard breaks out into loud cackles.
  23. sprawl
    sit or lie with one's limbs spread out
    Bernard grabs my hand and yanks me up, and I sprawl right into him like I’m one of those rings clanging into the pole.
  24. stub
    strike accidentally against an object
    Isabella hadn’t said one thing about getting her braces off when we were all texting last night. And the only pictures she posted online were of Kahlo, one of her cats, and her swollen toe after she stubbed it.
  25. groom
    care for one's external appearance
    I look at Isabella too. With her nonbushy hair, big hazel eyes, regular-sized forehead, perfectly groomed eyebrows, and shiny straight teeth.
  26. obnoxious
    causing disapproval or protest
    One of the boys, Daniel Richards, says something to Alex, and at first Alex looks around, a little confused. Daniel is obnoxious, so I know whatever he said can’t be good.
  27. jingle
    a short, catchy, often comic verse or song
    Alex starts singing that commercial jingle about good-smelling shampoo, but in the commercial it’s a girl singing it, and I know the boys are trying to make Alex feel embarrassed.
  28. dread
    be afraid or scared of
    So, on the first day of track practice, I walk real slow to the locker room, dreading changing, dreading running, dreading doing this at all without a friend.
  29. intolerance
    unwillingness to respect differences in opinions or beliefs
    “Our country has so many great things, but it also has a long history of intolerance. Sometimes trials like this one are...benchmarks. They can show how far we’ve come, or how far we’ve yet to go."
  30. hoard
    save up as for future use
    “What’s gotten into you?” Julia asks, looking at me suspiciously. She knows I like to hoard my chips.
Created on May 2, 2019 (updated May 2, 2019)

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