Chapters 16–27

Frank Li knows that his conservative Korean parents will not approve of the girl he is dating, so he and friend Joy Song agree to enter into a fake relationship to appease their families.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. trepidation
    a feeling of alarm or dread
    I like that she understands my trepidation without me even having to explain it.
  2. convalesce
    get over an illness or shock
    I’ve never seen him frail before, and a vision of him convalescing in old age flashes in my mind.
  3. conundrum
    a difficult problem
    Q opens his hands. There is the conundrum.
  4. dichotomy
    a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses
    “It’s a false dichotomy. White is an artificial construct.”
  5. expatriate
    a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country
    Here’s what I found: Koreans originate from North or South Korea, with 7.4 million expatriates living mostly in the United States, Vietnam, China, Japan, the Philippines, Russia, Uzbekistan, Australia, and Canada.
  6. deign
    do something that one considers to be below one's dignity
    9. Every generation has challenges it must face on its own terms. Therefore humanity is ______ to repeat its mistakes even as it slowly evolves forward.
    A) blessed

    B) wont

    C) loathe

    D) deigned
    E) doomed
  7. marzipan
    confection made of sugar, almond paste, and egg whites
    “What is it?” she says.
    “Homemade marzipan. Someone brought a bunch to The Store yesterday for Dad.”
  8. recursive
    characterized by repetition
    I lock eyes with her and see infinite recursive reflections of the two of us.
  9. seminal
    containing seeds of later development
    The Mocha-Dick, named after the article that inspired Melville’s seminal novel Moby-Dick, had long been an institution ever since Playa Embarcadero Beach Pier was erected.
  10. obstreperous
    noisily and stubbornly defiant
    So after school I take Brit in the obstreperous Consta over to Just a Formality, where we wander through aisles of seemingly identical attire.
  11. canon
    piece of music in which a melody is imitated in other parts
    Suddenly a string quartet breaks into song—good old Pachelbel’s canon—and the wedding party assembles.
  12. invocation
    a prayer asking God's help as part of a religious service
    More invocations in Korean: “Marriage is work” and “Joining of the families” and blablabla according to Dad’s whispers.
  13. coruscate
    be lively or brilliant or exhibit virtuosity
    Joy is _____.
    A) shimmering

    B) coruscating
    C) scintillating

    D) effervescing

    E) freaking gorgeous
  14. scintillate
    emit or reflect light in a flickering manner
    Joy is _____.
    A) shimmering

    B) coruscating

    C) scintillating
    D) effervescing

    E) freaking gorgeous
  15. sumptuous
    rich and superior in quality
    There’s a parade of sumptuous flower wreaths on tall stands, gifts from families and local businesses, all flanking a sliding pile of impeccable gift envelopes—probably tens of thousands in cash, just sitting there.
  16. diametric
    characterized by opposite extremes; completely opposed
    “You’re implying that a bro is diametrically opposed to a kickass spy.”
  17. doppelganger
    a ghostly double that haunts its living counterpart
    The newlyweds move on to the next table: another kids’ table, with three boys and two girls sitting in mirror-image arrangement to ours like doppelgangers from an alternate dimension.
  18. languor
    a relaxed comfortable feeling
    They rise from their languor to greet the bride and groom. They bow in this hip, fluid manner that demonstrates how much they really own bowing.
  19. stoic
    seeming unaffected by pleasure or pain; impassive
    John Lim had a drink too many, liquid courage gone wrong, and wound up crying with his head in Ella Chang’s lap while she sat erect and stoic and unmoved.
  20. unequivocally
    in an unambiguous manner
    I was in love— unequivocally, uncontrollably in love. Cleaved to Joy for all the world to see.
  21. cleave
    stick or hold together and resist separation
    I was in love—unequivocally, uncontrollably in love. Cleaved to Joy for all the world to see.
  22. rend
    tear or be torn violently
    She clutches her fist again and rends the poor flowers in two and flings them at my face.
  23. disgorge
    cause or allow to flow or run out or over
    The bell rings, and students disgorge into the hallway.
  24. ontological
    relating to the metaphysical study of existence
    The next few weeks before winter break are an ontological free-for-all. It’s like someone accidentally bumped the settings of reality, fumbled to fix them, and wound up only making things worse.
  25. errant
    straying from the right course or from accepted standards
    As a final precaution, we set up email filters to quarantine any errant messages from schools.
  26. lugubrious
    excessively mournful
    I guide the lugubrious Consta on to the freeway, where it propels us northward.
  27. agog
    having or showing keen interest or intense desire
    We stare agog at the throngs of people.
  28. sublime
    inspiring awe
    It is sublime. I capture it all with my Tascam.
  29. emblazon
    decorate, adorn, or inscribe with a design
    He gestures toward a red food truck emblazoned with the words ALL DAE EVERY DAY.
  30. recalcitrant
    stubbornly resistant to authority or control
    She takes my phone and engages the parental management protocols, and once we receive the Have a fun confirmation, I guide the recalcitrant Consta to the one place I know we can be alone and free and private.
  31. akimbo
    bent outward with the joint away from the body
    Me and Joy step out of the fountain and run like hobbits with legs akimbo back up the length of the dogleg.
  32. penumbra
    a region of light shadow around the darkest part of a shadow
    “Please be aware that all sectors are ours to patrol this evening except parking structure Europa top level, northeast corner, and we will attempt no patrol there. That area remains in perpetual penumbra because of a malfunctioning lamp.”
  33. leeward
    on the side away from the wind
    It makes me think of the windward and leeward slopes of a mountain. The windward side will trap precious moisture, and the leeward side will be forever deprived of it, creating a lush green slope on one side and a barren gray one on the other, separated only by a thin, sharp ridge. Bugs born on the leeward side know only struggle. Bugs born on the windward side, only bounty.
  34. menial
    relating to unskilled work, especially domestic work
    “Yeah, I’m scare long time. We first coming, no nothing. English? Only so-so. Only menial job we can getting. Money? Aigu. Three hundred dollars only we having. Almost two years we staying—”
  35. chastise
    censure severely
    “John,” says Ella, and throws a chastising look.
  36. iniquity
    morally objectionable behavior
    “He reveal true nature, shedding skin like serpent,” says Dad. “Bible say, ‘Woe to those who scheme iniquity.’”
  37. bumpkin
    a person who is awkward, uncultured, or unsophisticated
    I see them as twangy bumpkins in some rural high school.
  38. lilt
    a jaunty rhythm in music or speech
    “So you’re going to say you’re sorry, right?” I say to Dad, with a lilt of hope.
  39. abut
    lie adjacent to another or share a boundary
    We arrive at our house. It abuts a cinder-block wall separating it from the nearby freeway.
  40. confound
    be confusing or perplexing to
    “Frankie. We protecting your future. You understand me, right?”
    I do and don’t at the same time. It confounds me how they managed to hide all this. They’ve been faking it for weeks.
Created on March 13, 2020 (updated March 18, 2020)

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