Part 1

Five cousins from an unconventional family try to reestablish ties while uncovering family secrets.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. extrapolate
    draw from specific cases for more general cases
    As always, variables. As always, the first variable is my father. As always, I can’t say a word about it. As always, Mom doesn’t extrapolate. So I just sit and watch the snow.
  2. allegedly
    according to what has been declared but not proved
    Kelly launched her allegedly pregnant body at The Freak with her right hand cocked and ready to punch.
  3. meander
    move or cause to move in a winding or curving course
    There’s a girl walking up the street, in the middle of the street. I don’t know where she came from and it doesn’t look like she knows where she’s going. She’s just meandering.
  4. innuendo
    an indirect and usually malicious implication
    No flirting, no innuendo, no tips on how to be prettier or more fashionable, no telling her how to talk because swear words put boys off.
  5. foyer
    a large entrance or reception room or area
    I bring the shovel and the broom to the porch, knock off as much snow as I can from my boots and coat, and take them off inside the foyer.
  6. spree
    a brief indulgence of your impulses
    My room is small and empty, aside from my bed, the school handbook, two trash bags of clothing, and a new backpack Mom got me when she went on her first-day-in-a-new-town shopping spree.
  7. tuber
    a fleshy underground stem or root, often used as food
    “Who would have thought Northern Europeans would rely so much on a plant so poisonous? Everything about it is toxic except for the tubers themselves. Leaves, stems, roots, seeds, all poison. The secret,” he says, slapping his hand on a stack of books, “is keeping the spuds beneath the soil. Because any part of the plant that sees light can hurt you if you eat it. Even kill you—but only after making you puke your guts out and go crazy.”
  8. cataract
    disease that involves the clouding of the lens of the eye
    Marla can barely see him after years of ignoring her cataracts.
  9. pristine
    immaculately clean and unused
    She liked what the professor said about poison. She looks down at the house—the house with the abundant skylights and the pristine deck that she can’t see under three feet of snow.
  10. au gratin
    covered with breadcrumbs or cheese and baked
    Tonight we’re having potatoes au gratin. I slice and Mom places the slices in the potato pot. She has twelve different au gratin recipes.
  11. simpleton
    a person lacking intelligence or common sense
    They argued about it. Marla called Gottfried a simpleton. Gottfried didn’t call Marla anything.
  12. concourse
    a wide hallway in a building where people can walk
    The Dairy Queen down the concourse has hot dogs and we both know it.
  13. anomaly
    deviation from the normal or common order or form or rule
    They either think I’m so rich I can afford to look this ragged, or they think I’m some first-class anomaly, like a rotten cashew, a crying baby, or a lack of champagne.
  14. incarceration
    the state of being imprisoned
    This morning he had a two-hour-long conversation with Bradford, our friend and driver, about the obvious link between slavery, poverty, and mass incarceration.
  15. primal
    having existed from the beginning
    The primal way in which my body purged the shrimp from itself was like a peyote trip.
  16. purge
    rid of impurities
    The primal way in which my body purged the shrimp from itself was like a peyote trip.
  17. duality
    a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses
    What a messed-up duality I live. Three days a week I’m eating food that requires me to pick bones out of my mouth. Chicken bones, goat bones, ox bones. But here I get cheese and crackers as if my American life is one giant art exhibit.
  18. elitist
    someone who believes in rule by a high-status group
    “I have all I need at Dad’s house. I don’t need your lamb chops or your BMW.”
    “You make us sound like elitists. We donate to the animals all the time. We know there are horrible things happening in the world. We’re a lot older than you, you know.”
  19. cul de sac
    a street with only one way in or out
    I keep biting my lips as Marla takes her final crazy turn into her cul-de-sac and we head for her driveway.
  20. ethic
    a system of principles governing morality and conduct
    “Good kid,” Gottfried says, after he closes the closet door. “A good work ethic.”
  21. spunk
    the courage or spirit to carry on
    Gottfried thinks about his favorite granddaughter, Loretta. Kid has spunk. Something different from the others.
  22. indigent
    poor enough to need help from others
    He thinks about the last time he saw them all—years now—and how they looked indigent.
  23. ramble
    continue talking or writing in a purposeless manner
    She keeps saying uh-huh to Missy, who is most likely rambling on the other end of the phone. She tends to ramble.
  24. din
    a loud, harsh, or strident noise
    Windy night, busy inside with the din of eat-in customers, and I get your order wrong. You say, “No! I said LARGE, not SMALL!”
  25. lament
    regret strongly
    You lament the future of our country with people like me in charge.
  26. quip
    witty remark
    It’s not just a passing comment or a racist quip in the hallway. My whole house is wallpapered with hate.
  27. dilate
    become wider
    Pupils dilated almost completely, he looks like he has black irises and I know I must look the same way and I don’t know what time it is.
  28. troupe
    an organization of performers and associated personnel
    Loretta listens as her flea troupe talks to her about the issues in the show.
  29. mediocrity
    ordinariness as a consequence of being average
    “Solatium tuberosum, our modest friend from the Andes, saved you from certain mediocrity. Grew your population while others withered—doubled it in some places. Rose you up. Rose up your children, your servants. Starched you rigid into your beliefs. The key to the kingdom was yours for the taking. Who wouldn’t take that key?”
  30. filament
    a very slender natural or synthetic fiber
    Everything on the other side is roots. White filaments searching for water and nutrition. The longer she looks, the more roots she sees.
  31. fumigate
    treat with smoke, especially with the aim of disinfecting
    They blame the RV camp for having bugs. The landlord comes to fumigate once a month. This is why Loretta takes her lunch box to school every day. Just in case.
  32. criterion
    a basis for comparison
    Did you know plaque is considered a living thing?
    Not kidding. It fits all the criteria to be a living thing.
  33. condescending
    characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance
    We don’t talk about it because he’s a condescending jerk about the whole thing and thinks I believe he voted with his wallet.
  34. naive
    marked by or showing unaffected simplicity
    I’ve been grounded by having a mother who thinks I’m naïve for not hating my best friend because of the amount of melanin in his skin.
  35. prenuptial
    occurring before a marriage
    Like, my mom had to sign a prenuptial agreement and everything.
  36. inclination
    a characteristic likelihood of or natural disposition
    You have no inclination to listen because you already know everything.
  37. euphoria
    a feeling of great elation
    I have the euphoria you checked at the door when you stood at the altar, defended your dissertation, said yes to that job you never wanted.
  38. dissertation
    a treatise advancing a point of view resulting from research
    I have the euphoria you checked at the door when you stood at the altar, defended your dissertation, said yes to that job you never wanted.
  39. grueling
    characterized by effort to the point of exhaustion
    Drooling, you tell me about your grueling day at the office. You think I care.
  40. palatable
    acceptable to the taste or mind
    I make life more palatable. I make it livable.
Created on March 11, 2020 (updated March 17, 2020)

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