List 1

In this memoir, Rex Ogle recounts his family's struggles with poverty, hunger, and violence.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. grit
    clench together
    “I’m going to count to three!” Mom growls through gritted teeth. I see her fingers curl into her palms, making fists. “One—”
  2. savor
    taste appreciatively
    I grab a toothpick-stabbed mini-bite, dip it in the mustard, and shove the whole thing in my mouth. I savor the juicy explosion of flavor. But it’s gone too soon.
  3. confrontation
    a hostile disagreement face-to-face
    My mom doesn’t shy away from much.
    Especially confrontation.
  4. scowl
    frown with displeasure
    “What are food stamps?” I ask.
    “Don’t worry about it,” Mom repeats, but this time, she scowls at me.
  5. talon
    a sharp hooked claw especially on a bird of prey
    She unwrinkles eight one-dollar bills, then counts out 97 cents, mostly in pennies. Her hands tense up, her fingers looking like talons. She says, “I’m a little short.”
  6. fend
    try to manage without help
    Mom smiles this cruel smile, saying, “Did you know, a hundred years ago, parents just kicked their kids out on the street? They had to fend for themselves. Like ‘Hansel and Gretel.’ Too bad it’s not still like that.”
  7. klutz
    someone who is clumsy
    Before I sit in the seat he saved for me, he asks, “What’d you do to your face this time, klutz?”
  8. aggravated
    incited, especially deliberately, to anger
    Students behind me are getting aggravated. “What’s the holdup?” “Come on, man.” “I’m hungry.”
  9. antibiotic
    a substance used to kill microorganisms and cure infections
    “Growing up, two of my sisters died because they got sick. Antibiotics could have saved their lives. But my parents did not have money for the medicine. Do you think that was fair? No. My life has not been easy. But we made it work. And you will make this work too.”
  10. parasite
    an animal or plant that lives in or on a host
    “Butt pain?” Abuela laughs. “When I was a little girl, my sister had parasites. Parasites are very common in Mexico. They are giant tapeworms that grow inside your intestines to eat your food and steal your nutrients...."
  11. sneer
    smile contemptuously
    Mom sneers. “You’re not getting both. It’s a waste of money. You can get the notebooks with the hole punched paper. Then you can pull it out if you need it.”
  12. frayed
    worn away or tattered along the edges
    I argue, “But it’ll have the frayed edges. I can’t turn in my homework like that—”
  13. willpower
    the trait of firmly controlling your own behavior
    It takes all my willpower to not point out Abuela sent forty.
  14. gawk
    look with amazement
    She wheels past the gawking and horrified mothers, her head held high and proud, saying, “What are you looking at?”
  15. scrawny
    inferior in size or quality
    Birmingham Middle has sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. So everyone’s bigger than me. I’ve always been kinda short and scrawny for my age.
  16. waiver
    a formal written statement of relinquishment
    I wait until Mom stops grilling Sam about finding work. Then I pull the football waiver from my pocket and slide it into the center of the table. “I want to join the football team.”
  17. brawl
    a noisy fight in a crowd
    Even behind the thin, plastic door, we can still hear it, feel it. Hear the brawl, the screams turning into thuds and gasps for air.
  18. labyrinth
    complex system of paths in which it is easy to get lost
    But I have cardboard boxes from our last move. I have thumbtacks to pin my sheets to the walls, creating new walls, and alleys and roofs, so we’re hidden away in a labyrinth.
  19. abstract
    not representing or imitating external reality
    A huge crater now lives in the wall, like an abstract painting.
  20. pathetic
    deserving or inciting pity
    She glares at me the way Derek glares at me. Like I’m filth. Dirty and disgusting. Like I’m wrong, and pathetic.
Created on March 25, 2020 (updated March 25, 2020)

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