Part 3

Five cousins from an unconventional family try to reestablish ties while uncovering family secrets.
Copy this list to... Buy the Book

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. antithesis
    exact opposite
    “We’ll talk when you get here,” I say. “I can’t live with Marla anymore. It’s not that she’s a bad person,” I whisper. “It’s just the antithesis of everything you ever taught me—living here. They’re not good for me.”
  2. hackles
    a feeling of anger and animosity
    I can see Dad’s hackles go up and then smooth back down.
  3. disgruntled
    in a state of sulky dissatisfaction
    Roy looks disgruntled.
  4. deltoid
    large triangular muscle covering the shoulder joint
    He has a tattoo on his left deltoid.
  5. amalgam
    a combination or blend of diverse things
    The audience yells an amalgam of “You never loved her!” or “You’re selfish!” and “You’re crazy!” or “Stop making people eat lamb!”
  6. raucous
    disturbing the public peace; loud and rough
    “You must be missing a lot of parties working here every weekend,” he says. He gets this look in his eye like he remembers raucous parties.
  7. commodity
    any good that can be bought and sold
    What’s wrong with me? Every time I see a girl I weigh her in my mind like flour.
    Like she’s a commodity.
  8. salve
    a preparation applied externally as a soothing remedy
    They’d notice her big front teeth and how she doesn’t wear makeup. They’d laugh at the bites on her arms—when I want to apply salve to them.
  9. solidarity
    a union of interests or purposes among members of a group
    I helped him shave his head. I shaved mine, too, in solidarity.
  10. impromptu
    with little or no preparation or forethought
    “No way. I’m not leaving you. And anyway, if you die then I don’t get to spend time with you before you die? No Bruce Lee movies? No impromptu Bob Marley dance parties in the living room?”
  11. minimalist
    a practitioner of extreme simplification of form and color
    You said we’d be minimalists. You said all that mattered was human connection.
  12. diorama
    a picture representing a continuous scene
    I’m not a person. I’m a check box. You need to understand, this isn’t a childhood. This is a diorama.
  13. mortified
    made to feel uncomfortable because of shame or wounded pride
    It’s why I liked the Arby’s uniform. The day I brought it home Mom was mortified.
  14. exasperated
    greatly annoyed; out of patience
    She looked at me in that way. Exasperated that I didn’t want loafers.
  15. coy
    affectedly shy especially in a playful or provocative way
    “Stop being coy.”
    “Maybe you’re just like your mother,” I said.
  16. origami
    the Japanese art of folding paper
    Good word, unfold. Because that’s what she did. Like one of those magical origami shapes—one minute a crane with moving wings, then next a crumbled blob of paper that looked like it went through the washing machine.
  17. caricature
    a representation of a person exaggerated for comic effect
    The bottom of the handle and bell part covered in a big house-slave gingham dress with an apron on the very top of the handle above the caricature face, a red handkerchief tied up, you know the kind, from the old maple syrup bottles.
  18. enthralled
    filled with wonder and delight
    She has the troupe harnessed already and puts on the show. Her pop-pop looks a mix of enthralled and mortified.
  19. shyster
    a person who uses unscrupulous or unethical methods
    Loretta answers, “I’m no shyster. This is the greatest...flea circus in the country.”
  20. pagoda
    an Asian temple
    We drive through town, toward the mountain with the bizarre pagoda on it.
  21. covet
    wish, long, or crave for
    I try not to covet my best friend’s car. I do anyway.
  22. rehabilitation
    treatment of physical disabilities by massage and exercises
    He says, “So, I got a job at Lakeside. In the office, helping with scheduling and stuff.” Lakeside is a rehabilitation center—kinda like a nursing home.
  23. rummage
    search haphazardly
    I’m in the bathroom, rummaging through her makeup drawer.
  24. elated
    full of high-spirited delight
    I stop and look at Mom, and she seems elated about something.
  25. choreograph
    compose a sequence of dance steps, often to music
    He tries to flirt one more time, but Loretta puts her hand out like the choreographer taught her. “Save it for the next lady, okay, buddy?”
  26. blight
    any plant disease resulting in withering without rotting
    When you water a potato plant, the liquid seeps into the soil. Helps the spud grow underground. The leaves may love seeing the sun, but the tubers need the dark. They seem so different—so unrelated—but when the blight hits and the whole plant goes, then you know everything was related.
  27. hyperventilate
    breathe excessively hard and fast
    I’m guessing that Mike’s 100% white power tattoo isn’t the worst thing in the world because Mom never hyperventilated about that.
  28. nomad
    a member of a people who have no permanent home
    My mom called your mom the nomad of the family.
  29. epidemic
    attacking or affecting many individuals simultaneously
    She told me it was an epidemic. Girls disappearing from malls. Used it to scare me.
  30. amends
    something done or paid to make up for a wrong
    This is my last Easter. I’m not going to make amends before I die.
  31. civility
    the act of showing regard for others
    Maybe you can buy civility wherever they sell humor.
  32. measly
    contemptibly small in amount
    Fact: If Marla and Gottfried would have loaned Matt a few thousand measly bucks, The Freak would not be wrapped in a dirt tortilla.
  33. humanitarian
    someone concerned with the interests and welfare of people
    Greed trickles down in many forms. It made Harry a humanitarian who forgets the human he’s personally responsible for from time to time.
  34. anthropology
    science of the origins and social relationships of humans
    I stop thinking about Ian because I’m glad he isn’t here and having to live through an anthropology project. I try to do that for myself. I put on my anthropologist’s hat and look at my family.
  35. croquette
    a small patty of minced food that is coated and fried
    The Freak is frying you her great-grandmother’s potato croquettes.
  36. swindler
    a person who steals by means of deception or fraud
    The Freak visited her parents a lot at first, but they never paid attention—which was surprising considering her mother is an artist and has paid numerous swindlers to read the lines on her palms.
  37. synchronicity
    the relation that exists when things occur at the same time
    His father always said that families were the same. Everything was connected, everything worked in synchronicity.
  38. apparition
    a ghostly appearing figure
    She walks to him and hugs him, and his arms grip real flesh—not some Scooby-Doo apparition.
  39. exhume
    dig up for reburial or for medical investigation
    The Freak has something to say. She says it to the men exhuming her from her dirt burrito.
  40. coroner
    an official who investigates death not due to natural causes
    She says it to the coroner. She says it to the funeral director. She says it to you.
Created on March 11, 2020 (updated March 17, 2020)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.