"Efrén Divided" by Ernesto Cisneros, Chapters 6–11

When his mother is deported, twelve-year-old Efrén must take on new responsibilities, including caring for his younger siblings.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–5, Chapters 6–11, Chapters 12–19

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. belittle
    express a negative opinion of
    Efrén lowered his head and signed the tardy clipboard nailed to the wall. He’d seen Mr. Garrett belittle everyone who’d ever tried justifying being late.
  2. infraction
    a violation of a law or rule
    “Mr. Nava, this makes two infractions in a row. Is there something I should know?”
  3. grudge
    a resentment strong enough to justify retaliation
    Apá, of course, held a grudge, saying that even though the courts erased the law, the masses had spoken and revealed exactly how they felt.
  4. masses
    the common people generally
    Apá, of course, held a grudge, saying that even though the courts erased the law, the masses had spoken and revealed exactly how they felt.
  5. veer
    turn sharply; change direction abruptly
    And when school finally let out, it was him leading the stream of kids off campus. More and more of them broke off into different neighborhoods with each block they passed. Those who veered off first lived in the fancy Floral Park block.
  6. insufferable
    extremely unpleasant or annoying
    Sometimes insufferable, always inseparable—like Ms. Solomon would joke.
  7. churning
    (of a liquid) agitated vigorously; in a state of turbulence
    Efrén shut his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to fight the churning feeling in his gut.
  8. agape
    with the mouth wide open as in wonder or awe
    Students looked around, mouths agape—total disbelief.
  9. complexion
    texture and appearance of the skin of the face
    Mr. Garrett’s ex-wife had long, wavy hair, a honey-beige complexion, and caramel eyes...just like Amá.
  10. uproot
    pull up by or as if by the roots
    If he were arrested, the entire family would most likely be uprooted like some uninvited weed and discarded across the border.
  11. override
    counteract the normal operation of
    The house Wi-Fi signal was slow and unreliable, but at least it was theirs. Other kids at school had figured out an app to override passwords and get free access from the neighborhood, but Amá had always insisted on paying for their own account.
  12. unmotivated
    lacking interest, drive, or ambition
    Efrén was too tired, too unmotivated to do homework.
  13. elaborate
    marked by complexity and richness of detail
    At first, the images were simple, a set of eyes here, a smile there, but eventually the shapes became more elaborate.
  14. dismissive
    showing indifference or disregard
    Apá looked down at his hand and waved it dismissively. “Nada. Just a scratch.”
  15. dilute
    lessen the strength or flavor of a solution or mixture
    Efrén walked over and watched as his father ran his injured hand under the kitchen faucet, watched the diluted blood seep down the slow-draining sink.
  16. waver
    move hesitatingly, as if about to give way
    He took a wavering breath and looked up at the ceiling.
  17. tolerance
    willingness to respect the beliefs or practices of others
    “I’m excited to announce that our history department has received approval for a visit to the Museum of Tolerance in LA. Of course, we will be needing some parent chaperones to join us. Please ask your parents if they’ll be able to attend.”
  18. socialist
    a political advocate of state control of industry
    First they came for the socialists,
    and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.
  19. brink
    the limit beyond which something happens or changes
    But with his perfect attendance, straight A’s, and high reading scores, he was on the brink of being labeled a nerd himself.
  20. tendency
    a natural inclination toward a certain condition
    “To quote Gandhi: ‘We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.’”
  21. sunder
    break apart or in two, using violence
    “Our video needs to be funny, but deep,” David said. “Without sundering my opponent.”
  22. slander
    attack the good name and reputation of someone
    “I think you mean slandering. Like politicians do on TV ads,” Efrén said, walking toward the door.
  23. collude
    act in unison and in secret towards a deceitful purpose
    No colluding with the enemy. He had to stay loyal to David at all costs.
  24. wily
    marked by skill in deception
    David’s smile was wily.
  25. pry
    move or force in an effort to get something open
    “You kidding? She loves babying people. Especially pint-size twins with adorable cheeks. I’m telling you, the trick’s gonna be getting them back from her. Even with her arthritis, we might have to pry them from her hands.”
  26. relapse
    go back to bad behavior
    He liked seeing David happy and filled with hope but hated seeing him hurt each time his mom relapsed and started drinking again.
  27. indubitably
    in a manner or to a degree that could not be doubted
    “I think this desk makes you look presidential. What do you think?”
    Indubitably,” said David. “See, the clothes are making me sound smarter too.”
  28. platform
    a document stating the principles of a political party
    “All right, Mr. Smarty-pants—I mean Smarty-shirt—why don’t you tell us about your presidential platform?”
    “My what?”
    “Why don’t you tell us about all the amazing things you are planning to do as president.”
  29. quad
    a rectangular area surrounded on all sides by buildings
    Max raced over to the main quad area and taped a poster to a tree while Mía centered hers onto the science lab door.
  30. flush
    sudden reddening of the face
    Again, a flush crept across Mr. Garrett’s face.
Created on July 10, 2020 (updated July 14, 2020)

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