stare or look at, especially with amorous intentions
Max pointed to a tiny panda bear with shifty button eyes while Mía
ogled what could have been a koala or a badly sewn sloth.
an instrument for measuring and indicating a quantity
Efrén sank into the passenger seat and waited inside the truck, feeling his stomach tighten as the numbers on the gas pump
authenticate by someone empowered to witness signatures
“AND my identification card. AAANND your
notarized letter of permission too.”
compete for something
He was heading toward a row of taxi drivers—all in street clothes—each
vying for his business.
pull back or move away or backward
Efrén surveyed the men, pausing at the oldest gentleman with the
covering on a piece of furniture
Efrén looked around at the stains and tears on the
the state of being disregarded or forgotten
“This place is
limbo, man. A place not quite Mexico, not quite the US. La Tierra de los Olvidados—the Land of the Forgotten. You don’t get a name like that for nothing.”
an open fabric woven together at regular intervals
All around him, vendors held up heavy fleece blankets—perfect for cold winter nights—colorful
mesh bags used for grocery shopping, lucha libre wrestling masks, a variety of superhero piñatas, and the always popular Mexican sarapes.
a conduit that carries water over a valley
A few feet away stood the ruins of an
aqueduct, the arch barely standing.
a consortium formed to limit commercial competition
He’d also heard about drug
cartels and corruption.
affected by something overwhelming
And still, the people he slammed into acted as if witnessing a panic-
stricken kid running through the streets was simply an everyday occurrence.
threatening evil or danger
The men chasing him stopped as well, breaking into
menacing smiles as if they knew something he did not.
inclined to shake as from weakness or defect
Just a tiny room barely large enough to fit one twin mattress, one
rickety bookshelf, and a propane burner to cook.
not subject to any restrictions or limitations
She didn’t see a high school dropout, didn’t see the tats on my arms or back. She just accepted me—
unconditional love, bro.
hot green or red pepper
Immediately, his eyes stung as if they’d been rubbed with a ripe
try to manage without help
Some of them promise to get you across, but instead, they just take your money and dump you into the desert to
fend for yourself.
resembling the smell of a deer secretion or odorous perfume
It’s what our people do—we make do. Lalo’s words stuck around like the
musky odor in the car.
extend out or project in space
Efrén bolted out of the car, anxiously scanning the area around him. And when that didn’t work, he turned to Lalo who calmly
jutted his chin at a rompope-colored Taco Loco restaurant. “Over there.”
design made of small pieces of colored stone or glass
Amused and equally excited, Efrén rushed inside the restaurant where a lady behind a
mosaic counter flattened out rolls of masa into perfectly shaped tortillas, like Amá used to do back home.
as the agent of or on someone's part
“Then I dropped four G’s on some fake papers but ended up getting arrested and sent back. Things are different now. Even if my daughter’s old enough to petition on my
behalf, they’ll never give me permission. Not with my record.”
characterized by enmity or ill will
“Reason for visiting?” the man said in a slight Mexican accent.
Efrén understood the Latino man was simply doing his job, but that didn’t stop him from judging his choice of job. “To visit my mother,” he said, looking up and giving the man a
dishonest or immoral or evasive
“But then, the drug cartels began to get more and more power. Soon the government itself became
corrupt—bien chuecos—and many of my own men began taking bribes for small favors. But those favors grew bigger each time. Then one day, some men from a maldito cartel stopped by. They wanted help releasing a few of their men. They gave me a choice. Help them out and get paid nicely or...”
stretch, so as to see better
Apá continued to
crane his neck for a better look. “I can’t tell if it’s open or not. Too many big trucks.”
the quality of being exact
He might not have been able to form steaming sopes with his bare hands, but he was able to clean a kitchen with the same speed and
precision as Amá.
an asset of special worth or utility
Piojitos were his favorite, but Efrén wasn’t sure he’d accept them from Apá. After all, that was Amá's
according to the exact meaning; according to the facts
“Ms. Salas convinced my mom to let me stay with her until the program can find me a place.
Technically, she’s my foster parent.”
a defamatory or abusive word or phrase
“School security caught David damaging posters. But he’s not the person who wrote those racial
epithets. In fact, he was going around the campus tearing them down. I can only imagine what you must have thought.”
offensive to the mind
We’ll find whoever wrote those
given as an award without the normal duties
“When I moved here, you never treated me differently, even if I was the only white kid on the entire block. You always called me an
honorary Mexican and introduced me to your friends, and showed me the ropes. You even taught me all the Spanish words I needed—starting with the bad ones.”