Chapters 1–3

Self-described wallflower Twinkle Mehra dreams of becoming a filmmaker — and when Sahil Roy suggests teaming up to make a movie for their school's Midsummer Night celebration, she finally gets her chance. But can Twinkle stay true to herself now that she's in the spotlight?

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. mange
    a skin disease causing inflammation, itching, and hair loss
    See, in Shakespearean times, these were the poor people who would have to stand in the front of the stage and got called out (unfairly, IMO) for being rowdy and smelly and having the mange or whatnot.
  2. snooty
    overly conceited or arrogant
    And then there were the snooty people in the back, who got to sit in, like, covered areas and look down at the groundlings and feel all superior in their silk feathered hats.
  3. incantation
    a ritual reciting of words believed to have a magical effect
    Maybe I’ll ask Dadi if she knows any incantations that’ll grow me a courage gland.
  4. mundane
    found in the ordinary course of events
    Her dad, James Tanaka, is a world-famous artist who regularly challenges ideas of the mundane with his mixed-media pieces and has gallery showings in the United States, Tokyo, Paris, and London (literally what it says on his website in the “about” section).
  5. decry
    express strong disapproval of
    Meanwhile, I’m like, maybe I’ll waitress/travel after high school? Or go to film school at USC if I can get a scholarship? Or live in my parents’ house forever, decrying the death of the arts?
  6. genus
    taxonomic group containing one or more species
    Being a human belonging to the wallflower genus, I’m kinda used to swallowing my words instead of speaking them.
  7. splay
    widen or spread apart
    He was sitting there, his legs splayed like he owned the place.
  8. wiry
    lean but strong
    He sat at a table with his best friends, Skid (white, short, and wiry) and Aaron (the only black and openly gay person in our class; seriously, diversity, PPC. Look it up).
  9. indignantly
    in a manner showing anger at something unjust or wrong
    His mustache quivered indignantly, almost independent of his face.
  10. unadulterated
    without qualification
    I stuffed the remaining napkins back into the holder and then stood up to face mustachioed Stan, who was watching this unfold with unadulterated glee beaming off his annoying, dictatorial face.
  11. rejoinder
    a quick reply to a question or remark
    But by the time I’d decided to rejoinder with a perfectly acceptable, “Pretty good, and you?” his back was already to me.
  12. ogle
    stare or look at, especially with amorous intentions
    I’d missed what Sahil was saying—again—because I was ogling his brother.
  13. measly
    contemptibly small in amount
    Midsummer Night was the biggest event of the year at PPC, before we got our measly one-month-long summer break.
  14. premier
    first in rank or degree
    Mission statements were Maddie’s idea from three years ago. Hers is “To become the premier physician-scientist working in the realm of gender-based medicine and, specifically, takotsubo cardiomyopathy as it affects women.”
  15. debilitating
    impairing strength and vitality
    Despite my debilitating shyness, a spark of excitement began to fizz and pop inside me.
  16. lope
    run easily
    He laughed a little and then loped off quickly, awkwardly dodging a trash can in the hallway at the last minute.
  17. lascivious
    driven by lust
    She winked lasciviously.I wished she wouldn’t broadcast my crush on Maddie FM.
  18. intimate
    marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity
    Besides, I’d never, ever made a movie with someone else before. Making art was intimate.
  19. solidarity
    a union of interests or purposes among members of a group
    Brij is Indian too, so I’ve always felt a little bit of solidarity with him even though most of the time when he talks I can’t understand what he’s saying because he functions on a completely different level from my own.
  20. valedictorian
    the student with the best grades
    He needed to spy on Maddie if he was worried about his future valedictorian status.
  21. binary
    of or pertaining to a number system having 2 as its base
    Okay, Brij, maybe you don’t know this, but my IQ is not higher than 1,890 and therefore, like 99.9 percent of the population, I do not speak binary.
  22. sari
    a draped dress worn primarily by Hindu women
    I walked up our cracked sidewalk and in the front door to find Dadi sitting there in her white cotton sari on the couch, with her hands on Oso’s cheeks.
  23. awry
    away from the correct or expected course
    The rest of us mostly put up with it because, well, Dadi’s just Dadi, and so what if we have a few dozen crystals on our windowsills and we’ll probably never get the smell of sage out of the couch and we’re on a first-name basis with the county firefighters because of the number of times her “scrying” experiments have gone awry?
  24. mainstream
    the prevailing current of thought
    I stared at Dadi, easily the wisest person I knew, just thinking of how many lives I could change if my movies went mainstream.
  25. size up
    look at critically, searchingly, or in minute detail
    Movies have always felt like my thing. This is one area where maybe I won't be sized up against him.
  26. blather
    talk foolishly
    Huh? you might be asking yourself. What’s she blathering on about now?
  27. saunter
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    He got a few books out of his locker, slammed it shut, and sauntered over to us.
  28. surreptitious
    marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
    I kept darting surreptitious glances at him while also looking straight ahead, as if I had no business gazing directly at this perfect likeness of an Indo-Greek god, high school edition.
  29. peripheral
    on or near an edge or constituting an outer boundary
    Maddie grinned in my peripheral vision.
  30. seamless
    perfectly consistent and coherent
    By then I’d fit seamlessly into Maddie’s circle.
  31. patriarchy
    a form of social organization in which men hold power
    Jane, your films were about sticking it to the man, snapping back at the patriarchy by showing strong female protagonists who didn’t conform to gender roles.
  32. protagonist
    the principal character in a work of fiction
    Jane, your films were about sticking it to the man, snapping back at the patriarchy by showing strong female protagonists who didn’t conform to gender roles.
  33. veritable
    being truly so called; real or genuine
    They’d call me Twinkle the Glass Ceiling Smasher, and the world would be engulfed in a veritable tsunami of movies and plays and stories by women.
  34. complement
    make perfect or supply what is wanting
    Now his face looked all pink and sweaty, which I’m sure complemented my purple, sweaty one.
  35. charlatan
    a flamboyant deceiver
    He was clearly pumped (as I’d been before I realized I was about to be exposed as a charlatan).
Created on February 19, 2019 (updated May 20, 2019)

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