Chapters 1–4

Arthur and Ben couldn't be more different. Arthur, a Jewish teenager from Georgia, is in New York City for a summer internship that he hopes will help him get into an Ivy League college. Ben, a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, is attending summer school so that he can avoid repeating 11th grade. Find out what happens when a series of coincidences brings these two together.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. personify
    attribute human qualities to something
    Literally, I take a two-second photograph, and now I’m obstruction personified. I’m responsible for every subway delay, every road closure, the very phenomenon of wind resistance.
  2. intern
    someone who works for an expert to learn a trade
    Normally, being an intern is more boring than terrible...
  3. ambiguous
    open to two or more interpretations
    Ethan finally chimes in with the most ambiguous of all emojis: the grimace.
  4. amble
    walk leisurely
    The twins amble past me, and I see they both have man buns.
  5. tandem
    a bicycle with two sets of pedals and two seats
    “Do you think they parked their tandem bicycle at the mustache-wax parlor?”
  6. nonchalant
    marked by casual unconcern or indifference
    But I have to channel my inner New Yorker—cool and nonchalant.
  7. tentative
    hesitant or lacking confidence; unsettled in mind or opinion
    I shoot him a tentative grin.
  8. innuendo
    an indirect and usually malicious implication
    I hold my hands apart to demonstrate. Because apparently that’s the way to prove it’s not an innuendo.
  9. furrow
    make or become wrinkled or creased
    Box Boy furrows his brow.
  10. inexplicable
    incapable of being explained or accounted for
    I feel inexplicably frantic. Like, my limbs are weird and loose, and my head’s full of cotton.
  11. loom
    appear very large or occupy a commanding position
    He shifts sideways to face me, but the box looms between us.
  12. retractable
    capable of being pulled back
    I exhale, hand resting for a moment on the retractable line barrier.
  13. thwart
    hinder or prevent, as an effort, plan, or desire
    The universe isn’t going to thwart plan A just so I’ll go with another version of plan A. This is clearly the universe calling for plan B.
  14. reverberate
    ring or echo with sound
    A man’s voice reverberates through an intercom. “Can I have your attention?”
  15. rendition
    a performance of a musical composition or a dramatic role
    People flood into the post office, carrying giant drums and flutes and tubas, blasting a somewhat off-key rendition of that Bruno Mars song “Marry You.”
  16. optimal
    most desirable possible under a restriction
    I go for Zelda because she teleports and deflects projectiles and shoots fireballs from great distances, which are all optimal moves for any player looking to avoid hand-to-hand combat.
  17. monogamous
    having one mate
    “She’s a huge supporter of Kool Koffee because they donate some portions to charities, and she thinks serious coffee drinkers should be better about where they’re buying coffee. I mean, I’m not ready to be monogamous with Kool Koffee.”
  18. nefarious
    extremely wicked
    “Only you could make drinking coffee sound nefarious.”
  19. suggestive
    tending to hint at something improper or indecent
    Like when I thought Hudson was going to be mine. How I couldn’t wait to wake up to his face—his beautiful lazy eye, the little bump on his nose, his suggestive dark eyebrows that don’t match his short auburn hair.
  20. auburn
    (of hair) colored a moderate reddish-brown
    Like when I thought Hudson was going to be mine. How I couldn’t wait to wake up to his face—his beautiful lazy eye, the little bump on his nose, his suggestive dark eyebrows that don’t match his short auburn hair.
  21. mannerism
    a behavioral attribute that is distinctive to an individual
    The way he changed my worldviews, like whenever he had to push back at idiots in school who got at him because of his effeminate mannerisms; he really helped me forget my own idiocy on what I thought a man was supposed to look like.
  22. sage
    having wisdom that comes with experience
    “Humans are complex.” Dylan nods sagely. “What do you know about him?”
  23. rendezvous
    a date or meeting with a love interest
    Ben-Jamin and Hudsonien sneak out of Zen Castle late at night and wander into the Dark Woods for a romantic rendezvous.
  24. wallow
    devote oneself entirely to something
    There’s just this part of me that has to wallow, the part that cues up Les Misérables when I’m sad. I can’t help it. If I’m going to feel something, I want to feel it.
  25. solidarity
    a union of interests or purposes among members of a group
    But maybe it wasn’t just a solidarity thing. It didn’t feel like a solidarity thing. It felt like fate and recognition and standing straighter and oh hello.
  26. minimalist
    of or relating to extreme simplification of form and color
    I mean, this whole building gleams. Artsy minimalist light fixtures? Check. Mirrored elevators? Check. Crisp gray couches and metallic triangular coffee tables? Check and check.
  27. paralegal
    a person with specialized training who assists lawyers
    There are lawyers and paralegals and secretaries and clerks, and everyone seems to know one another, and they definitely all know Mom.
  28. quirk
    twist or curve abruptly
    Juliet’s mouth quirks.
  29. exasperated
    greatly annoyed; out of patience
    I’m always vaguely paranoid that Namrata and Juliet are exasperated by me.
  30. consolidate
    bring together into a single whole or system
    Like I’m some high school kid they’re forced to babysit when they’d rather be doing important things like consolidating the Shumaker files.
  31. sheepish
    showing a sense of shame
    Then you caught my eye and gave a sheepish smile and it was very cute.
  32. specificity
    the quality of being particular rather than general
    “I love the total lack of specificity,” says Namrata. “He’s like, ‘hey, you look good. Why don’t I give you absolutely no frame of reference for who I am.’”
  33. insufferable
    extremely unpleasant or annoying
    I’ve seen Dylan go through a dozen “relationships” since third grade, but he’s never been this insufferable on day two of knowing a girl.
  34. ionic
    containing or involving electrically charged particles
    Tell us how ionic bonds are formed and you can earn your freedom.
  35. effeminate
    having unsuitable feminine qualities
    I haven’t seen him this quiet since Kim Epstein tried to call him one of the girls as an insult because he’s a little effeminate, and Harriett blasted Kim’s business for trying to swing at her best friend.
Created on December 13, 2018 (updated December 17, 2018)

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