For Black Girls Like Me: Part II

A cross-country move, questions about her adoption and origins, and an incident of racism at school all have Makeda wondering where she belongs.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Part I, Part II, Part III
35 words 62 learners

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Full list of words from this list:

  1. abbey
    a church or building associated with a monastery or convent
    When the song starts we take turns singing and pretending we are the nuns. We shake our heads and act very concerned about all the mischief that Maria is causing in the abbey.
  2. beeline
    the most direct route
    When I enter the rec room I beeline to the craft table and pull out my songbook to work on some lyrics that have been bouncing around in my head...
  3. insensitive
    not noticing or caring about the feelings or needs of others
    I never thought you’d say something so insensitive. You know that New Mexico used to be Mexico right? We don’t tease people because they speak another language.
  4. bigot
    a prejudiced person who is intolerant of differing opinions
    This is a country of immigrants. We are not bigots.
  5. cobbler
    a pie made of fruit with rich biscuit dough on top
    They tell me all about Atlanta. How the light leans crooked off of rooftops at sunset how peach cobbler is supposed to taste.
  6. intricate
    having many complexly arranged elements; elaborate
    The questions make an intricate web on the walls.
  7. shrivel
    wither, as with a loss of moisture
    Your mama told me you looked like a prune when you were born. A shriveled black prune and that’s why she gave you away.
  8. fleck
    a small contrasting part of something
    Huck Andrew Peterson
    Age: 12
    Hair: Black
    Skin: Tan
    Eyes: Light brown with flecks of gold
    Muscles: Kinda
  9. ember
    a hot, smoldering fragment of wood left from a fire
    But Fireball is a rooster and he is the worst of them all. He is a miniature terror with mean eyes and feathers the color of burning embers and I secretly hope the wild dogs will eat him alive.
  10. galosh
    a waterproof overshoe that protects shoes from water or snow
    We put on thick jeans and big rubber galoshes and puffy winter coats for protection (even though it is July) and then for extra dramatics I strap on Papa’s racquetball goggles.
  11. plume
    the feather of a bird
    The two of us scramble around the yard arms outstretched trying to herd Fireball back into the pen or into a corner so that we can grab him by the plume as he squawks and bites.
  12. furrow
    make or become wrinkled or creased
    “We’ve got this under control.” But she bites her lip and furrows her brow when she says this.
  13. thrash
    move or stir about violently
    Not even Lena’s posts or thoughts of Huck or the feeling of the wind trailing its fingers on my back will make me feel better. So I thrash and thrash and thrash. And ache and ache and ache.
  14. char
    a burnt substance
    And I curse my body for being so difficult. For being a piece of crumbling char that does not know how to light itself.
  15. debut
    the presentation of a young woman in society
    We grab our purses and sunglasses and march out the door in a parade of excitement and I sit in the back seat of the minivan feeling just like Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. Ready to make my public debut.
  16. bodice
    part of a dress above the waist
    I fill my arms with puffed sleeves and velvet bodices and skirts dotted with sequins and head to the dressing room.
  17. sequin
    a small disk of shiny material used to decorate clothing
    I fill my arms with puffed sleeves and velvet bodices and skirts dotted with sequins and head to the dressing room.
  18. ignorant
    unaware because of a lack of relevant information
    “Mama. Calm down. That lady is ignorant. Don’t get upset ok? We’re fine. Keda’s fine. Right?”
  19. grit
    clench together
    “I’m fine,” I say through gritted teeth.
  20. steep
    set at a high angle (of a slope)
    Just outside of the city Mama turns down a dirt path and winds the van up a steep road.
  21. loft
    floor consisting of open space at the top of a house
    Mama laughs. “Yes! There’s a loft above the main room with bunks. That’s where you’ll be sleeping. Last time you were too young to climb the ladder to the loft. You slept in the bedroom with me and Papa.”
  22. ovation
    enthusiastic recognition
    And Eve and I spin and slide around the floor in our socks as fast and as gracefully as we can. Bumping into one another. Our tongues sticking out of the corners of our mouths in concentration. Until we are so dizzy and out of breath we fall to the ground giggling and panting as Mama gives us a standing ovation.
  23. speckle
    mark with small spots
    I pull out my flashlight and a flat speckled rock I found on our hike from under my pillow.
  24. quiver
    shake with fast, tremulous movements
    The cabin is dark and seems to quiver with the noise of Mama’s and Eve’s snoring.
  25. bound
    move forward by leaping
    Mama bounds inside and instantly starts pulling hand-dyed yarns and wooden needles off the shelves.
  26. divine
    of such excellence as to suggest inspiration by the gods
    “My word it’s divine!” Mama’s eyes light up. “Girls. Come feel this.”
  27. crochet
    needlework by interlocking stitches with a hooked needle
    By the time Mama is finished she’s filled two additional baskets full of yarn and supplies and has picked us all an artisan crochet pouch to keep our needles in.
  28. frumpy
    drab, old-fashioned, and unattractive
    I know I can book some gigs if I just focus and practice. And also if I look good! No more sweatpants and frumpy shirts.
  29. vanity
    low table with a mirror where one sits while dressing
    Mama doesn’t wait for an answer. She plops herself into a chair at the vanity station.
  30. bashful
    self-consciously timid
    “Can you do all of us?” Mama says pointing to Eve and me standing bashfully in the doorway.
  31. upright
    a piano with a vertical sounding board
    “But it’s not even tuned!” I protest. Motioning to the upright piano in the corner of the cabin that looks like it hasn’t been touched in a hundred years.
  32. veer
    turn sharply; change direction abruptly
    I set out down the dirt road and then veer off to the right into a thicket of spruce and aspen trees.
  33. ward
    block forming a division of a hospital shared by patients
    After Mama’s stomach was pumped and she was tucked away in her room in the psych ward. After Aunt Sarah filled out all the paperwork while Eve and I tried to eat grilled cheeses in the cafeteria. We were released into Aunt Sarah’s care until Papa could make it back to the States.
  34. bellow
    shout loudly and without restraint
    "EVE!" Papa bellows after her. “Get back here right now. You will not disrespect your aunt like that. Unbelievable.”
  35. turbulence
    instability in the atmosphere
    The plane shakes and dips a little as we climb over the mountains. I close my eyes and try to feel happy that we are all going home. But as the turbulence continues all I can feel is my gut flipping.
Created on September 7, 2019 (updated September 12, 2019)

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