Part One

Two teenagers in crisis offer each other unexpected support—but while Finch helps Violet heal from trauma, his own life is falling apart.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. bequeath
    leave or give, especially by will after one's death
    I, Theodore Finch, being of unsound mind, do hereby bequeath all my earthly possessions to Charlie Donahue, Brenda Shank-Kravitz, and my sisters.
  2. snicker
    laugh quietly
    “Weirdo!” someone shouts. Amanda’s little group snickers.
  3. smattering
    a small number or amount
    I let Violet help me over the wall and onto the concrete. From down below, there’s a smattering of applause, not for me, but for Violet, the hero.
  4. altercation
    a noisy quarrel
    I also have to behave myself, play well with others, refrain from throwing desks, as well as refrain from any “violent physical altercations.”
  5. diverse
    many and different
    “You’ve applied to UCLA, Stanford, Berkeley, the University of Florida, the University of Buenos Aires, Northern Caribbean University, and the National University of Singapore. This is a very diverse list, but what happened to NYU?”
  6. reimburse
    pay back for some expense incurred
    Well, my brother was there when he set off the firecrackers, and he said before the police took him away, he was all “Unless you want to reimburse me, I’ll wait for the finale”?
  7. exhilarate
    fill with sublime emotion
    Inside the classroom, I take my seat, feeling infamous and invincible and twitchy and strangely exhilarated, as if I just escaped, well, death.
  8. purgatory
    a temporary condition of torment or suffering
    The whole time I’ve been in Indiana, which is all my life—the purgatory years, I call them—we’ve apparently lived just eleven miles away from the highest point in the state.
  9. apprehensive
    mentally upset over possible misfortune or danger
    He sighs the sigh of a one-hundred-year-old man and gives me an apprehensive, distrustful look.
  10. obscure
    not famous or acclaimed
    Mr. Black goes on about how he wants us to feel free to choose the places that strike our fancy, no matter how obscure or far away.
  11. delve
    turn up, loosen, or remove earth
    Our mission is to go there and see each one, take pictures, shoot video, delve deep into their history, and tell him just what it is about these places that makes us proud to be a Hoosier.
  12. offset
    compensate for or counterbalance
    Having an account will make me look sociable and normal, and maybe work to offset the whole meeting-on-the-verge-of-suicide situation, so that she’ll feel it’s safe to know me.
  13. rabid
    infected by an acute viral disease of the nervous system
    Decca’s eyes gleam like the eyes of a small, rabid animal.
  14. cringe
    draw back, as with fear, pain, or embarrassment
    The slightly blaming note in her voice makes me cringe, and I get the urge to go back to my room again and stay there.
  15. resolutely
    with firmness
    This means the grand, the small, the bizarre, the poetic, the beautiful, the ugly, the surprising. Just like life. But absolutely, unconditionally, resolutely nothing ordinary.
  16. tousle
    disarrange or rumple; dishevel
    He is damp and tousled. His eyes are large and beautiful and bloodshot.
  17. deduce
    conclude by reasoning
    He writes back immediately: Congratulations! I deduce by your message that you’re alive!
  18. manifesto
    a public declaration of intentions
    On March 23, 1950, Italian poet Cesare Pavese wrote: “Love is truly the great manifesto; the urge to be, to count for something, and, if death must come, to die valiantly, with acclamation—in short, to remain a memory."
  19. pretentious
    intended to attract notice and impress others
    Two matching SUVs are parked in the drive, shining as if their pretentious mechanical lives depend on it.
  20. bigoted
    blindly and obstinately attached to some creed or opinion
    One of the great pleasures of my life is making comments like this, because having a gay son is my bigoted prick of a father’s worst nightmare.
  21. swivel
    turn on a pivot
    Without turning her face, she swivels her eyes in my father’s direction.
  22. relic
    an antiquity that has survived from the distant past
    The “out” sounds like “oot,” a relic of Dad’s Canadian upbringing.
  23. languid
    lacking spirit or liveliness
    Here’s more: “I feel a thousand capacities spring up in me. I am arch, gay, languid, melancholy by turns.
  24. stupefy
    be a mystery or bewildering to
    It’s stupefying—the very best thing I’ve ever seen with these two eyes—but before I can unhook myself from the stone railing and go to her, she opens her mouth, leaps into the air, and starts to scream.
  25. scathing
    marked by harshly abusive criticism
    This time last year, I would have spoken up and agreed with them and then written a scathing blog post about high school gossip.
  26. perish
    pass from physical life
    “If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”
  27. wary
    marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    Her eyes are cold and a little wary, as if she’s afraid I might out her right here, right now.
  28. saunter
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    Brenda Shank-Kravitz stalks by, a bright-pink storm cloud. Charlie Donahue saunters behind.
  29. remnant
    a small part remaining after the main part no longer exists
    It’s a remnant of the Violet who came Before. Normal teenage Violet. Violet Unremarkey-able.
  30. propulsion
    the act of moving forward
    “You know what I like about driving? The forward motion of it, the propulsion of it, like you might go anywhere.”
  31. scrawl
    write carelessly
    But because he’s watching me, I scrawl down a few things—location, date, time, a brief description of the place itself and the kids by the fence—and afterward, we spread the map out on the picnic table.
  32. ravenous
    extremely hungry
    Decca, as usual, is eating like a small, ravenous horse, and for once I’m doing my share of shoveling it in.
  33. disconcerted
    having self-possession upset; thrown into confusion
    As we clear the plates, my mother looks as dazed and disconcerted as she always does, only more so because she doesn’t have the first clue what to do with my sisters and me.
  34. seething
    in constant agitation
    I am still seething by the time Ryan shows up, five minutes early.
  35. makeshift
    done or made using whatever is available
    In my wallet I find one more twenty, and when I get back to the trailers, I duck into the first one and drop the twenty and the change into the old register that sits on a kind of makeshift counter.
  36. faze
    disturb the composure of
    She is now walking several feet ahead, pretending I don’t exist, but that’s okay, I’m used to it, and what she doesn’t know is that it doesn’t faze me.
  37. calibrate
    make fine adjustments for optimal measuring
    But the length of the rope has to be calibrated in proportion to the weight of the person; otherwise there is nothing quick or easy about it.
  38. emission
    a substance that is released
    The rate of car exhaust suicides in the States has declined since the mid-sixties, when emission controls were introduced.
  39. heist
    robbery at gunpoint
    Al Capone and the Dillinger gang always went there after some sort of heist.
  40. terrain
    a piece of ground having specific characteristics
    The terrain is prettier here than in Bardett—hills and valleys and miles of trees, everything snow covered, like something out of Norman Rockwell.
Created on January 2, 2016 (updated September 17, 2018)

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