Paola Santiago and the River of Tears: Chapters 14–18

Paola and her friends love science, astronomy, and the natural world — but when they encounter La Llorona, a ghost from Mexican legends, they embark on a supernatural adventure.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–6, Chapters 7–13, Chapters 14–18, Chapters 19–26, Chapters 27–33
40 words 11 learners

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Full list of words from this list:

  1. scour
    examine minutely
    He hovered every second his club wasn’t necessary until they had rounded up the last Mano and scoured the camp three times over for any more hidden predators.
  2. contrite
    feeling or expressing pain or sorrow
    Contrite wasn’t a side of Naomi they’d seen before, and Pao didn’t want to miss it.
  3. petulant
    easily irritated or annoyed
    Where was the petulant kid who had yelled at her in the tent before the fight?
  4. earnest
    devout or heartfelt
    But his face was so earnest, and he looked so impressed, and all Pao could think about was the way he had smiled at Naomi, and how beautiful she’d looked next to him.
  5. crude
    not carefully or expertly made
    There were no tables or chairs, just old wool blankets and crudely stitched cushions on the floor.
  6. bristle
    react in an offended or angry manner
    Pao bristled. She’d imagined striding up to Marisa, demanding answers and not taking no for an answer, but instead, she was being summoned to the front of the classroom.
  7. comply
    act in accordance with someone's rules, commands, or wishes
    Pao looked at Marisa for a moment before complying. She didn't like taking orders from the older girl, but if she wanted answers, she’d have to pick her battles.
  8. malevolent
    having or exerting a malignant influence
    “The Gila River is the source of a concentrated amount of magical energy. We’re not sure why, but that energy seems to be mostly malevolent.”
  9. vanquish
    defeat in a competition, race, or conflict
    He wanted to say yes. To swing his shiny club and vanquish monsters and have girls feed him stew at the end of a long day of heroic deeds.
  10. rankle
    make resentful or angry
    Pao was surprised, but Dante looked at her smugly, even though he had rankled under Marisa’s thumb just a few hours ago.
  11. gallivant
    wander aimlessly in search of pleasure
    “And it’s not safe. The Niños protect against the rift—we don’t go gallivanting around inside it, getting ourselves killed.”
  12. incredulous
    not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving
    “Cult?" Dante echoed, his eyes going wide and incredulous. “They’re heroes, Pao! They’re trying to save our families, our entire town! Maybe even the world!”
  13. meander
    move or cause to move in a winding or curving course
    As she meandered in the blissfully quiet cactus field, everyone else asleep in the tents far behind her, she wondered what time it was.
  14. convoluted
    highly complex or intricate
    She didn’t think of her dad much anymore, but she felt a strange kinship with him tonight as she paced around the desert alone, working out something in her own convoluted way.
  15. tentatively
    in a hesitant manner
    “Good thing you came along, then,” she said, smiling, and Sal tentatively smiled back.
  16. hallmark
    a distinctive characteristic or attribute
    She had a quick temper and she distrusted people. She’d thought these were just hallmarks of a great scientist growing up in an increasingly scary world.
  17. repressed
    characterized by the suppression of impulses or emotions
    And in her dreams, she saw things she had always assumed were just part of her repressed imagination.
  18. visceral
    coming from deep inward feelings rather than from reasoning
    Though she was familiar enough with nightmares, this one was the most visceral Pao had ever experienced. She could feel the air whipping back her white hair, and she could hear the boy’s panicked heartbeat. But there was something else beneath her senses: an otherworldly pull, like there was a fishing hook in her chest, the line growing more tight and painful as she ran.
  19. convulse
    contract involuntarily, as in a spasm
    Once the deed was done, Marisa stepped out of the firepit and sank to her knees, her hands clamped over her mouth, every muscle in her body convulsing, trying to reject the pain even as she forced herself to accept it.
  20. miscreant
    a person without moral scruples
    “Have you smelled those miscreants? They have untrustworthy written all over them. In grime.”
  21. infuse
    fill, as with a certain quality
    “Franco," Pao repeated, letting her anger infuse every word.
  22. lackey
    a servile or submissive follower
    “Do your little lackeys know about him? Do they know he’s a kidnapper and a thief? That he stole kids from their families and they were never seen again?"
  23. wan
    lacking vitality as from weariness or illness or unhappiness
    Marisa smiled wanly, shaking her head.
  24. infernal
    extremely evil or cruel
    “We had to protect them from the ahogados. Those infernal spirits were always right behind us.”
  25. articulate
    put into words or an expression
    But Pao didn’t articulate any of those questions.
  26. succumb
    give in, as to overwhelming force, influence, or pressure
    She had accused Marisa of succumbing to evil, but hadn’t she saved Pao from Ondina?
  27. discerning
    having or revealing keen insight and good judgment
    “Trusting the wrong people in this world can be the end of you. Your friend is eager, wide-eyed. But you’re discerning, capable. You’d make a fine leader.”
  28. appraisal
    the classification of something with respect to its worth
    “Thanks,” Pao said, surprised at Marisa’s appraisal, so different from her own.
  29. gravitas
    formality, dignity, or seriousness
    “I want you to take out that fancy club of yours, hero boy. I just told Marisa we'd fight with the Niños de la Luz.” She said the name of the group with as much fake, goofy gravitas as she could.
  30. resilient
    recovering readily from adversity, depression, or the like
    The old friend duo of Dante and Pao had been more resilient.
  31. shrewd
    marked by practical hardheaded intelligence
    “Go ahead,” said Naomi, watching him with shrewd eyes.
  32. erratic
    likely to perform unpredictably
    His actions became erratic, and he paid more attention to her movements than his own.
  33. segue
    changing smoothly from one state or situation to another
    We don't let people win out of pity, she reminded herself, and the next time Naomi left an opening, Pao charged into it, taking the older girl by surprise.
    “Nice work!” she said once she had Pao on her heels again. "That’s a good segue into offense. Let’s huddle up.”
  34. corporeal
    having material or physical form or substance
    She's not dead. She hasn't been corrupted, Pao told herself. In her dream, Emma had still been corporeal, her voice still human. She’s alive, and I’m going to save her.
  35. machismo
    exaggerated masculinity
    “I’m coming with you,” Dante said, and Naomi nodded.
    Pao wanted to strangle him for his stupid machismo.
  36. leniency
    mercifulness as a consequence of being tolerant
    But there was no leniency in Naomi’s eyes.
  37. impart
    bestow a quality on
    Marisa nodded at each of them in turn, touching their hands or shoulders, imparting strength.
  38. feral
    wild and menacing
    She scanned the shapes coming closer, hoping to recognize Dante's form among them, but so far it was only ghosts. Middle school-size kids with green eyes and white hair moving with the feral grace of animals. Of predators.
  39. writhing
    moving in a twisting or snake-like or wormlike fashion
    She pulled with all her strength, twisting and writhing in his grip, an unnatural cold burning into her skin until she couldn’t tell heat from ice and she felt dizzy.
  40. extremity
    that part of a limb that is farthest from the torso
    Pao sat up, her vision swimming, her extremities growing cold as the sphere continued to grow, robbing vital energy from her as it did so.
Created on December 7, 2020 (updated December 23, 2020)

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