Chapters 1–3

Shy Yumi Chung dreams of being a stand-up comedian — and when a mix-up gives her access to a summer comedy camp, she might finally get her chance to shine.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. obscure
    make unclear or less visible
    Leather Pants scrunches my hair in her hands. "You need more volume.” She combs my hair forward, obscuring the sides of my face. "Covers your yeodeureum.”
  2. ventilate
    expose to air so as to cool or freshen
    When my hair is completely rolled up, the perm machine and I are sent to the ventilated lounge for a half hour to marinate.
  3. crotchety
    having a difficult and contrary disposition
    "Yesterday I went to your school to talk to Mr. Beasley."
    I stiffen at the mention of Winston Preparatory Academy's most crotchety administrator. "Why?"
  4. clique
    an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose
    "Wait. I don't have to go to Winston anymore?" A tightness I didn't even know I was holding in my shoulders magically lifts, and a giant grin spreads across my face. I consider the implications: no more starchy uniforms, no more Latin class, no more snotty cliques, and no more disappointed teachers.
  5. coerce
    cause to do through pressure or necessity
    I'm dying to know what nonimmigrant parents say to coerce their kids.
  6. vexed
    troubled persistently especially with petty annoyances
    I run my fingers through the still-wet ringlets on my shoulders, vexed. "It's...just like it was before," I tell her with a forced smile.
  7. impart
    bestow a quality on
    Even though everyone else has switched to the cleaner gas or electric ones, Dad refuses to change. He's convinced real charcoal imparts the most "traditional" taste.
  8. indecipherable
    impossible to determine the meaning of
    I glance at the wall of indecipherable code on the monitor. "Wow, that’s pretty intense."
  9. atrocity
    an act of shocking cruelty
    She glances at my hair. "Cute perm, by the way."
    I scrunch my nose, remembering the atrocity atop my head. "Don't lie. I look like a wet poodle."
  10. tousle
    disarrange or rumple; dishevel
    "Don't let that little punk get under your skin." She tousles my hair. "Besides, it'll loosen up before then."
  11. equestrian
    of or relating to or featuring horseback riding
    Hearing them talk about the stuff they do together on weekends at the country club makes me feel like we're from different planets. Like the time Alexis and Avery were gushing about an equestrian competition, and I jumped in with Quest! I love that board game! I didn't win many popularity points with that one.
  12. disdain
    lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
    "Beauty is not everything." Mom clucks her tongue and loud-whispers to Mrs. Lee, "I'm afraid Yuri will never get married." She tosses her head with disdain. "She still has no boyfriend."
  13. mortify
    cause to feel shame
    Yuri's porcelain skin flushes bright pink. You'd think we'd have grown immune to this stuff by now, but nope, it's still mortifying each time.
  14. faux
    not genuine or real
    A faux -concerned expression cloaks Mom's face. "She cannot meet any nice boys because she always studying, studying, studying."
  15. indulge
    treat with excessive pampering
    Mr. Lee indulges Dad. "Wah! So smart! She finished her studies two years early."
  16. feign
    give a false appearance of
    Dad swats at the air, feigning modesty, like they're talking about him.
  17. modesty
    freedom from vanity or conceit
    Dad swats at the air, feigning modesty, like they're talking about him.
  18. willful
    done by design
    She smiles at them with her fake no-teeth grin, willfully ignoring my silent outrage.
  19. humble
    low or inferior in station or quality
    In truth, I was assigned the humble role of Wiseman #2, with no speaking parts whatsoever, much less a solo.
  20. muster
    summon up, call forth, or bring together
    I'll never forget Jasmine's stand-up about how she got her period during a sleepover but couldn't muster the courage to ask her friend's mom for a maxi pad because #shygirl-problems.
  21. outgoing
    at ease in talking to others
    Hopeless, I fall onto my bed face-first. What I really need is a personality transplant. From a really spontaneous, naturally outgoing, fun-loving donor.
  22. charisma
    personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others
    I picture waking up from surgery after having charisma and confidence stitched alongside my organs and being miraculously healed from my stifling self-consciousness.
  23. stifle
    smother or suppress
    I picture waking up from surgery after having charisma and confidence stitched alongside my organs and being miraculously healed from my stifling self-consciousness.
  24. pomade
    apply oil or ointment to the hair
    For years [note: emphasize this], my mom has insisted that I condition it, spray it, pomade it, and perm it to “give it the volume.”
  25. pantomime
    act out without words but with gestures and bodily movements
    Be careful how you treat your hair, friends. Next time you’re in the bathroom, watch your back. [pause] No, I mean literally check out with some mirrors or something [ pantomime this]. You might have missed some flakes back there.
  26. secretion
    a specialized substance released from a gland or cell
    "Sorry." Mom points to the white cotton film slathered on her face with floral-scented goo. "I got the new facial mask. Secret ingredient is snail secretion. Helps with shrinking the pores."
  27. compulsion
    an irrational need to perform trivial or repetitive actions
    By compulsion, Mom automatically starts tidying the stray papers and books on my desk.
  28. sprawl
    sit or lie with one's limbs spread out
    I sprawl on the other end of my bed, staring at my closet door, where my K-pop posters hang next to my old Pokémon ones.
  29. smug
    marked by excessive complacency or self-satisfaction
    Her smug smile pulls the sides of the sheet mask, making her look like a lackluster Mexican luchador.
  30. lackluster
    not having brilliance or vitality
    Her smug smile pulls the sides of the sheet mask, making her look like a lackluster Mexican luchador.
Created on June 28, 2020 (updated July 14, 2020)

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