The Usual Rules

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"It's a Tuesday morning in Brooklyn - a perfect September day. Wendy's heading to school, eager to make plans with her best friend, worried about how she looks, mad at her mother for not letting her visit her father in California, impatient with her little brother and with the almost too-loving concern of her jazz musician stepfather. She's out the door to catch the bus. An hour later comes the news: A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Her mother's building." "Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Wendy, we gain entrance to the world ...
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Overview

"It's a Tuesday morning in Brooklyn - a perfect September day. Wendy's heading to school, eager to make plans with her best friend, worried about how she looks, mad at her mother for not letting her visit her father in California, impatient with her little brother and with the almost too-loving concern of her jazz musician stepfather. She's out the door to catch the bus. An hour later comes the news: A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Her mother's building." "Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Wendy, we gain entrance to the world rarely shown by those who documented the events of that one terrible day: a family's slow and terrible realization that Wendy's mother has died, and their struggle to go on with their lives in the face of crushing loss." "Absent for years, Wendy's real father shows up without warning. He takes her back with him to California, where she re-invents a life that comes to include a teenage mother living on her own in a one-room apartment with a TV set and not much else; her father's cactus-grower girlfriend, newly reconnected with the son she gave up for adoption twenty years before; a sad and tender bookstore owner who introduces her to the voice of Anne Frank and to his autistic son; and a homeless skateboarder, on a mission to find his long-lost brother." "Over the winter and spring that follow, Wendy moves between the alternately painful and reassuring memories of her mother and the revelations that come with growing to know her real father for the first time. Pulled between her old life in Brooklyn and a new one three thousand miles away, Wendy is faced with a world where the usual rules no longer apply but eventually discovers a strength and capacity for compassion and survival that she never knew she possessed." At the core of the story is Wendy's deep connection with her little brother, back in New York, who is grieving the loss of their mother without her. This is a story about the ties of siblings, about children
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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
It is a sign of Maynard's somewhat gauche good-heartedness that she has already produced this novel about September 11th. The protagonist, Wendy, is a thirteen-year-old girl who has just begun to rebel against her mother. The mother goes to work in the World Trade Center, and doesn't come home; Wendy is left with a load of inchoate guilt and misery, a devoted stepfather, an adored half brother, and a father in California, who, after years of neglect, is suddenly interested in her. Wendy flees to her father and spreads love the way Johnny Appleseed planted trees. The idea is that this heals her. Minor characters -- a San Francisco waif in search of his brother, a teen-age mother, a bookshop owner with an autistic son -- endure less heartwarming outcomes, but Maynard's overriding impulse is palliative.
Publishers Weekly
While the first 50-odd pages of Maynard's (To Die For; At Home in the World)new novel are emotionally harrowing, perseverance is rewarded. Set both in Brooklyn and the small town of Davis, Calif., following the events of September 11, the book tells the coming-of-age story of a girl whose mother goes to work one morning and doesn't come back. Wendy, who must bear the burden of having the last conversation with her mother end in anger, must also help care for her four-year old half-brother, Louie, while her stepfather, Josh, struggles to deal with his own grief. Attempting to escape her depressing surroundings and numb state of mind, Wendy leaves her family and best friend to live in California with her estranged father, Garrett. There she meets a colorful cast of characters, including Garrett's cactus-loving girlfriend, Carolyn. She also encounters bookstore owner Alan, who affectionately cares for his autistic son; a young single mother struggling to parent her newborn; and a homeless skateboarding teenager in search of his long-lost brother. The lack of quotation marks to set off dialogue makes the text difficult to read at times, and Louie seems a little too adult, even for a precocious child, but the intense subject matter and well-crafted flashbacks make for a worthy read. Though some may be tempted to charge Maynard with exploiting a national tragedy, most readers will find the novel an honest and touching story of personal loss, explored with sensitivity and tact. Maynard brings national tragedy to a personal level, and while the loss and heartache of her characters are certainly fictional, the emotions her story provokes are very real. (Feb. 22) Forecast: Presented by St. Martin's as "the first work of fiction to come directly out of the September 11 experience" (which it is not; Lawrence Block's Small Town, for one, reviewed in Forecasts, Jan. 20, stems directly from those events), this novel should appeal to a wide spectrum of readers, including those who have avidly followed the long career of the sometimes controversial author. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
Wendy is in her eighth-grade homeroom in Brooklyn when the principal announces that planes have flown into the World Trade Center towers. Her mother, Janet, works on the eighty-ninth floor. Finally her stepfather, Josh, comes to get Wendy with her young stepbrother in tow. They run home waiting for Janet to call, but she never comes home. This novel follows Wendy through the ensuing days and weeks, interspersing her memories of the past. Wendy's father arrives unannounced on Halloween to take her home to California. There she learns that the usual rules often fail to apply, as she skips out on school, lies to her father, and makes up stories about her life. Her new friends also live outside the usual: Violet mistreats her baby after being rejected by her own mother, Alan visits his adult son who became autistic at the age of four, and Todd is a young runaway searching for his brother. The first third of the novel, centered in New York on and after September 11, is gripping, but the remainder less so. All characters come alive, especially Wendy and her mother, but unfortunately, many of the connections made throughout the narrative are too neat, and Wendy's recovery after the tragedy is improbably quick. By New Year, she comes clean about her lies and finds a full new life. Nevertheless, teen readers will identify with Wendy's incredulity that ordinary life continues under such circumstances and will care deeply as she travels through the stages of grieving. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2003, St. Martin's Press,290p,
— Angela Carstensen
Children's Literature
Wendy is an eighth grader with eighth grade worries. Her mother is an ex-dancer settled down to domestic life with her new husband, jazz musician Josh, and their four-year-old son, Louie. Wendy loves her family but longs to know her real father, Garrett, who breezes into her life every few years and just as quickly whisks himself away. Then it all comes crumbling down. Wendy's mom worked on the 87th floor of the World Trade Center, the first one hit on September 11, 2001. She did not return home that day. Dazed and shocked, her family swims through a changed world, a landscape that prompts Wendy's little brother to ask, "Does God know about this?" Wendy—and thousands like her— somehow plug through days where the usual rules of grief do not apply. Out of the blue, Wendy's father shows up with a plan to take her to California. Though wracked with guilt for leaving Josh and Louie behind, Wendy takes him up on his offer. What could have turned out to be the often-told story of a child caught in a tug-of-war between parents becomes instead the story of a girl's journey through unimaginable grief. Wendy's California acquaintances are different from her New York circle, but not worse than they are. Therein lays the genius of this work. Though there are many characters with various flaws, all are sympathetic and real. September 11 provides enough evil to fill volumes. Packed with devastatingly beautiful images and exquisite dialogue, this is as close to a perfect novel as you're libel to come across. When it comes to recommending a good book, the usual rules don't apply. This is a must read. 2003, St. Martin's Press,
— Christopher Moning
KLIATT
Maynard writes about being 13 as if she were hiding inside the mind of a 13-year-old, seeing the world through 13-year-old eyes. She does it in such a way that 13-year-olds, 83-year-olds, and everyone in between can relate to the story. Although the story is about an unusual and horrific circumstance—that of a young girl, Wendy, whose mother dies in the attack on the World Trade Center Towers—it is also the story of any 13-year-old figuring out where she fits in the world. During the course of the story, she discovers the meaning of family and learns that there is more than one way to be related to another person. Wendy is a wonderful character and the reader will be reminded of other girl characters who play a role in the story: Anne Frank, Frankie of A Member of the Wedding and Francie of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Like them, Wendy has wisdom beyond her years and, like her mother, she has a zest for life that lasts after the book is finished. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, St. Martin's Griffin, 386p., Ages 12 to adult.
—Nola Theiss
Library Journal
In what might be the first, but certainly not the last, novel about the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the friends and relatives of the victims, Maynard (To Die For) offers a sensitive account of how 13-year-old Wendy copes with the death of her mother. To escape her grief-and the guilt she feels because she had a fight with her mother the morning of the attacks-Wendy decides to leave her stepfather and little brother, Louie, in Manhattan and move in with her father, who has been largely absent from her life and lives in California. Through the people she comes to know, including her father's cactus-growing girlfriend, the homeless teenage boy whom she befriends, and especially the owner of a bookstore who recommends good reads, Wendy gradually realizes that she still has a responsibility to the living and that by leaving New York she has abandoned Louie. For the most part, Maynard does a wonderful job of getting inside Wendy's head, especially at the beginning, and the relationship between brother and sister is very well handled. But once Wendy gets to California, the book's momentum flags, and all of the various subplots seem forced. Recommended for large public libraries.-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Maynard brings the 9/11 tragedy to readers through its effect on one extended family. Because of a fight, Wendy, 13, didn't speak to her mother that fateful morning before she left for school and her mother went to work on the 84th floor of the World Trade Center. In the aftermath of the disaster, Wendy, her stepfather, and her four-year-old half brother go about in a daze until she is picked up and moved to California by her father. The divorce had been difficult and the girl doesn't know much about Garrett, who has few, if any, parenting skills. In California, her life spreads out to include all sorts of new acquaintances, from Garrett's cactus-growing, maternal girlfriend to an unwed teenage mother with serious coping problems, a homeless skateboarder, a bookstore owner, and his autistic son. The well-developed characters are likable individuals, and each one has a different view of life. In the end, Wendy has learned a new set of life principles that includes an appreciation for those who love her and for the variety of insights others have to offer. This story could have been maudlin and overwrought; it is instead immensely readable and thought provoking. Wendy is a real teen and her ecisions are correct for her and the young woman she is becoming. This well- paced novel looks forward positively rather than backward with anguish, and will reward those who pick it up.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Maynard (Where Love Goes, 1995, etc.) rushes into the breach with the story of a 13-year-old girl whose mother is killed on September 11, 2001. As it begins, former dancer Janet (good enough to have understudied in A Chorus Line) is an executive secretary at a company on the World Trade Center's 87th floor, divorced from Wendy's irresponsible father Garrett and happily remarried to wonderful, domestic, bass player Josh, father of Janet's four-year-old son Louie. Maynard's chapters on the apocalyptic day when Janet doesn't come home-and on the surreal subsequent waiting period-are flatly descriptive. Josh and Louie are devastated; Wendy's grief is compounded by guilty memories of typically teenaged sullenness and meanness. When Garrett turns up after four years of no contact, wanting to take Wendy with him to California, she blankly acquiesces. Everyone she meets there is a case study in loss: Garrett's girlfriend Carolyn gave up her illegitimate baby two decades before; bookstore owner Alan has an institutionalized, autistic son and a wife who can't deal with it; 17-year-old Violet has kept her baby but can't manage him; cute skateboarder Todd (Wendy's first kiss) is looking for the older brother separated from him when their parents divorced; Garrett himself has a disapproving mother who dies before he can resolve their relationship. There's little surprising about these characters, or about the books Alan gives Wendy to help her cope (Anne Frank's diary, A Member of the Wedding, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn). But when the whole mismatched crew gets together for an oddball Thanksgiving, it's touching, as is Wendy's ultimate realization that "something had begun to grow back in her . . . shewas alive again." A conclusion brings disaster to enough minor characters that a generally upbeat tone doesn't seem too saccharine. Profound, no, but sincere and heartfelt: could be the affirmative novel about 9/11 that a lot of readers are waiting for. Author tour
From the Publisher
"Joyce Maynard has created unforgettable characters in this moving story of love and loss. It will make you laugh and cry. Be prepared — once you pick up this book you won't be able to put it down."—Judy Blume
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786255481
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 645
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Maynard has been a journalist and fiction writer for many years. Her books include the novel To Die For and the memoir At Home in the World. She lives in Mill Valley, California.

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Read an Excerpt

The Usual Rules


By Joyce Maynard

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2003 Joyce Maynard
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0312242611


Chapter One

Quarter past six. In ten minutes, Wendy would have to get in the shower. Her clock radio came on. a newsman was talking about the elections for mayor of new York City. She switched to music. Madonna.

She went through her new school clothes in her head, thinking up combinations. Her mother said the great thing about the gray pants was how you could wear them with anything, but when she wore them yesterday, she'd felt as if she was playing dress-up. Nobody else in eighth grade had pants like that. She wished she'd gotten the pruple-and-grea-plaid kilt instead, that her mom said was impractical. her mom, who owned three different-colored feather boas and red velvet harem pants, a leopard-print cat suit, and a tutu, not to mention all her old Peachy Puffs getups.

Do you think I'm fat? Wendy said. Her mother was a size four, and they could share clothes now, but Wendy could tell that before long, her clothes would be bigger than her mother's.

Of course not. All I meant was they make you look even slimmer than usual.

I'm fat, aren't I, Wendy told her.

You've got a perfect body. Much nicer than if you were on of those stick-figure types. I always wished I had a shape.

In other words I'm chunky, said Wendy.

You look just right, her mother said. Your bones are bigger,that's all.

Louie opened the door partway, just enough that she could see a corner of his face, eyes crusty, thumb in mouth.

Are you dry?

He told her yes.

Positive?

There's just this one little drip but it got soaked up in my sleeper suit, so it doesn't count. He stood there holding Pablo, with the old blue ribbon from when Pablo was new wrapped around his thumb. He liked to twirl the tip of the ribbon in his ear with his free hand while he sucked on the thumb of the other hand.

Just don't get any pee on me, she said.

He positioned himself in the bed so every inch of the side closest to Wendy was touching some part of her. She could hear the slurping sound his lips made on his thumb, and his breathing, slow and quiet, still labored from last week's cold.

One two three four. he was counting the rabbits on her pajama bottoms though after twelve or thirteen, he usually gave up.

I dreamed we got a puppy, he said. The two of them had been after their parnts about that forever.

What kind?

With spots. Little and fuzzy.

Are you going to school again today? he said.

I already explained to you, Louie. I got to school every day now except Saturday and Sunday. Five days in a row, school and two days home, only probably a lot of times I'll be sleeping over at Amelia's Friday nights.

I want you to stay home with me, he said.

She could hear the shower running in the room next to hers. She called it her parents' bathroom, even though Josh wasn't her real father, only Louie's. It was easier, plus he seemed more like her father than her real one.

You'll be going to school too pretty soon anyway, she told him. Thursday is preschool orientation, remember? You might want to work on not sucking your thumb so much. The other kids might make fun of you.

I changed my mind, he said. I don't want to go to preschool after all. I want to stay home and play with you.

Well, I'm not going to be home, she said. And even if I was, I probably wouldn't play that much.

Why?

I'm not in that stage anymore. Once you get to my stage in life, you want to do different kinds of things.

What?

Josh was making French toast. The kitchen smelled of just-ground coffee beans and frying butter. He was playing the Teach Yourself Spanish tape. Part one of her mother's birthday present last month. Part two was the trip to Mexico scheduled for next spring, when Wendy was going to stay at Amelia's or possibly to California to visit her real dad, but she wasn't supposed to count on this. It had been nearly three years since she'd seen him.

Her mother had said they couldn't afford a trip to Mexico, but Josh told her she worried too much. Six months from now, I could get his by a bus, he said, and boy would you ever wish you'd gone on that trip.

The coffeepot made the sound that meant the coffee was ready, Josh poured himself a cup of coffee. Louie hopped in on one foot. He had taken off his cape now and replaced it with the cummerbund from his Aladdin costume. All week he'd been working on his skipping, and now he was circling the table, making little frog jumps. He hadn't figured out yet how to alternate his feet.

¡Hola, muchacho! said Josh.

Blabbyblaba, Louie said. Where's my cereal?

Josh had already poured it. At your servicio, señor.

The voice on the tape was reviewing yesterday's lesson. ¿Donde esta la estacion central de autobus? he repeated.

Wendy studied Josh's face as he stood at the stove, holding the spatula. She had been wondering if people looked different right after they had sex, but he looked the same as usual. His hair was going in all different directions, but it always did first thing in the morning. He hadn't shaved yet, and he was wearing the same old green sweatpants and his Yankees T-shirt from last summer's subway series. He wasn't handsome like her father, and he didn't have her father's six-pack, that made Amelia call him a hunk when she saw his picture. Josh had curly black hair and the kind of face you'd like to see if you had a problem.

Powdered sugar on yours, miss? he asked. He set down a pitcher of maple syrup in front of her. Heated. She had told herself she was going to cut calories today, but now she poured a pool of syrup on her plate.

Mom up yet?

She's a little tired this morning, he said. I told her she should call in sick, but she said she'd just skip breakfast instead and take a later train.

They had sex all night. Wendy thought so before, but now she was sure.

She was supposed to fill in my field trip permission forms and the one about who to contact in an emergency, Wendy told him. My homeroom teacher said not to leave it to the last day. Also, I want to talk to her about my clarinet. They gave me a really crummy rental. I was thinking maybe we could buy one instead.

It wasn't the permission forms that were making the sharp sound in her voice, she knew, or the clarinet, either. She was thinking about the agument they'd had last night about her going to California. She wanted to visit her father. Her mother had said, That's crazy. School just started.

You never let me do anything, Wendy had told her. As usual, Josh had tried to make peace.

We'll talk about the clarinet tonight, he said. Meanwhile, I'll sign the forms. Let your mom have an extra ten minutes sleep.

For a second, Josh got a look on his face that reminded her of Louie when he stood at the bus with her that first morning she went off to junior high.

What do you say we give it a try this once, he said, reaching for the form. Father or no father, if you get injured in some knock-down-drag-out volley­ball game, I'm probably the one who'll come running down to school to get you.

Watching Josh as he took out the jar of raisins, arranging them on Louie's plate in the shape of a man, Wendy felt crummy for saying what she had. Do you have any idea how lucky we are to have someone like Josh in our life? her mom said to her times when Wendy treated him the way she knew she had just now. Do you even remember what it was like before he came along? Do you think Garrett would ever put himself out for you the way Josh does?

I don't know why I say the mean things I do, she told Amelia. My parents are just getting on my nerves so much lately. Sometimes these horrible re­marks ooze out of me.

Maybe you're possessed, Amelia said. We could perform an exorcism. Ame­lia had seen a video recently where that happened to a girl, and when they finally held the exorcism ceremony, all this horrible green vomit squirted out of her mouth and her head swiveled around like a cartoon character.

On TV, the weatherman was pointing to a map of New York and saying it looked like perfect weather clear through the weekend. Better grab yourself one last dose of summer, folks. No excuse not to get out and vote today.

Josh had been making her a sandwich. Now he was packing an apple in her lunch bag.

You got Macintosh, she said. I like Granny Smith, remember?

I didn't want raisins, Louie told Josh. I wanted chocolate chips.

We don't have chocolate for breakfast, Lou-man, Josh told him. As for you, Miss Picky, the Granny Smiths at the market weren't any good.

But Sissy gets hot chocolate, Louie said. That's chocolate. Just not in the shape of a chip.

Tell you what, son, Josh said. You eat the raisins, and tonight we'll make ourselves some chocolate-chip cookies. Maybe you can bring in a few extra on Thursday for you know what.

I want Mama to come too, when I go to preschool, said Louie.

Mama wouldn't miss it, Josh said. That's why she decided not to take the day off today. So she could be there with you Thursday.

Back when her mother first introduced her to Josh, she meant to hate him. She was only seven then. She'd seen a video at Amelia's house around that time, called Parent Trap, where a couple of twins whose parents were divorced decided to get them back together, and it worked. Even though Wendy didn't have a twin like the girls in the movie, that was her plan.

She was mean to him that first night at the restaurant. She didn't order anything except water, even though sushi was her favorite. I was just wondering, Josh said to her as she sat there, not even touching the soybeans that she loved, what is your opinion of miniature golf?

She had never been miniature golfing but she always wanted to. There was a course called Dreamland they sometimes passed on their way to Fire Island that her mom said they'd stop at someday, but they never had. Josh took them there, and after that, when Wendy's mother said it wasn't really her type of activity, it got to be something he and Wendy did, on Saturday afternoons when her mom and Kate went to yoga.

They were at Dreamland when he told her about wanting to get married to her mom. I could understand if you aren't too thrilled, he said. I know you've got a dad, and it's understandable that you'd like it a whole lot better if he was with your mother instead of me. But I promise I'll try hard to make her happy. And I'll teach you every single thing you ever wanted to know about jazz.

Which was nothing.

She was the flower girl. All that day, she kept thinking about the Parent Trap video and waiting for her real father to come crashing in and say something like Janet, it was an a terrible mistake. Come back to me. What are you doing hanging around with this chubby guy with hair on his shoulders and love handles, when you could be with me?

Even after it was all over, and Josh's mom was hugging her, and she had on so much perfume, Wendy could hardly breathe, and saying how she'd always wished she had a granddaughter-even then, Wendy kept expecting something to happen that would make him disappear. But the next thing she knew, Josh was moving his clothes into her mother's room and building a bunch of shelves for his collection of old jazz LPs. Sometimes at night, she could hear them having sex.

Josh was a stand-up bass player. He worked weekends mostly, usually Fridays and Saturday nights, and sometimes he'd get hired to play at a wedding, but he was usually home during the day, except when he gave lessons. He loved to cook, and instead of take-out Chinese and pizza, he made them things like eggplant parmigiana and roast chicken with garlic mashed potatoes.

One day, he found a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix in their cupboard. He took it in to the living room, where Wendy and her mother were watching a video of The Music Man.

Janet, he said in a voice that was so serious, Wendy actually worried he was mad. She'd never heard him get mad before. She was surprised at how Scary it was, hearing someone who's always nice to you sound angry all of a sudden. Not like her father, who she could remember sounding mad, even though she1d been so little when he left.

Now Josh was holding the box of Duncan Hines in front of her mother, like evidence. I h6pe and pray this is the last time an item like this ever makes its way into our kitchen. Just tell me it was temporary insanity.

I bought that a long time ago, her mother said. I didn't think I'd never 'mow anyone who could make us brownies from scratch. I swear I'll never in my whole life buy another box of Duncan Hines.

Then Wendy knew it was a joke, because the look on her mother's face was like some character in a soap opera whose husband just found out she was in love with someone else.

When she said that, he put his arms around her and made a sound like a bear in the forest, a low, happy growling noise, as if he'd just found a tree stump full of the sweetest honey deep in the underbrush. Something about the way the two of them looked at each other like that made it seem as if they were the only two people in the world.

It was Josh, not her mother, who seemed to know Wendy was feeling that way, because he looked up at her then.

Knowing your mother's talents in the kitchen, he said, I can tell the only hope I'll ever have of handing down my secret time-tested brownie recipe is if I teach it to you.

Wendy and Josh melted the chocolate over the double boiler. You melted the butter in with the chocolate. Butter, never margarine, he told her. He showed her how to sift flour and beat the eggs with the sugar till they made a golden-colored froth, and he let her be the one to pour the melted chocolate mixture into the eggs, very slowly, so at first it was part dark brown, part creamy yellow swirls, until gradually the chocolate was all nixed in. Then the flour.

Now for the most important part, he said.

Putting it in the oven?

Oh my God, he said. You have even more to learn than I thought.

He reached for a package of pecans and poured a bunch into a plastic sandwich bag. He took out his big wooden rolling pin.

Josh didn't come with much stuff when he moved in with them. A box of clothes, his string bass, a picture of himself with his sister and his parents when he was around nine, and a stuffed rabbit, also from when he was little. Not a whole lot else. But the rolling pin was his. Wendy's mom never owned one before.

Let's say there's this boy in your class who keeps getting on your nerves, making fart sounds when the teacher isn't looking, he said. Do you know anyone like that?

The thing was, she did.

Or some girl who tells you she isn't going to invite you to her birthday party, and even though she's a major jerk, you really wanted to go because everyone else in your clan was going to be there.

This also had happened.

Here's what you do about it, he said. He held the rolling pin over the bag of pecans.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard Copyright © 2003 by Joyce Maynard
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Reading Group Guide

Beautifully rendered, The Usual Rules follows 13-year-old Wendy, who lives with her mother stepfather and little brother in Brooklyn, and whose world is transformed in a single terrible instant, one day in September, 2001. Her mother goes to work that morning. She doesn’t come back.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

4 Star

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(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Good but sad

    It was really good but really sad at least13 and up. Also no qoutation marks. Bad editing for good book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 4, 2011

    Who Edited????

    I dont know if anyone noticed but there was not diolage mark things that confused me. i had to re-read every page just to try to understand who was talking. Who ever edited obviously failed

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2011

    ASTONISHED!!!!

    thiis is legiitt the best book ive EVER read!!! i cant think of 11 book better than tthis that ive read!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2009

    loooved itttt!!!!

    this was awsome!!!1 i mean every girl should read this book!!!

    in school i needed to quickly geta book for silent readind and this looked pretty good.i started reading and i was heart broken. i was almost in tears. i read it in two days. the only bad part is when she returns to live with josh, it leaves you hanging!!1

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    Blew me away

    I could not put this book down. It was absolutely imcredible. I laughed and cried. Wonderful book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Enjoyed it

    Read this book for my college English class. It was a pretty good book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good Book

    Really enjoyed the storyline. Author did a great job developing the character through memories of her mother and her brother and stepdad...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Loved it

    Fallow wendy through ny and california and watch her mother flying down the north tower, see how wendy meets a 17 year old mother and watch louie, wendies brother, mourn wendy leaving, find out the tragety of a girl whos mom died in 9-11
    87 floors. Run!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Wonderfully Written Book

    This book was written wonderfully. This book made me cry it made me see the pain of losing a parent. Wendy and her mother were so close, and it killed me everytime they mentioned another memory Wendy had of her mother. This book really made me enjoy the time I have with my mother, and father for that matter. This a wonderfull book, and I could not put it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    greatttt!

    i'm obsessed with new york city! and i loved reading this! its one of my favorite books! I LOVE IT ! :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2007

    a reviewer

    i thought this was an outstanding book. it made me laugh and cry and everything! it really shows you 9/11 through the eyes of someone that's been through it. after reading this book, you realize 9/11 wasn't just burning buildings and people jumping out of them, it was a life changing experience.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2006

    AMAZING!

    one of my friends family members dies on 9-11 and this portrayed PERFECTLY how she felt..it sends such vivid pictures and memories into ur mind..its AMAZING! I LOVE IT!!ive had it 2 days and am already on chp.15..this is one of those books u just cant put down DEFINITELY A NEW FAVORITE fabiola isabel

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2005

    A True Work of Art

    I read this book because of school. My school wanted to try something new so they had my class read THE USUAL RULES. I loved the book the second we began reading it. It was incredible how Joyce wrote. Every word sent such vivid images to my mind. I felt Joyce did such a great job. I was also really excited when I meet her. She's one of the coolest writers I've meet. Keep doing your thing Joyce!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2005

    The Best Down to Earth Book

    I really enjoyed this book. It was emotional and showed the true story of September 11th. :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2004

    I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN FORM THE SEC I OPENED THE COVER!!!!

    OMG this is the best book ever!!! Even though i am only on the 4th chapter this is my new favorite book! The way the author portarys and tellls the story is amazing. It was sad to read about the twin towers though she wrote it in a wonderful way. I made me think about all the things i am thankful for all over agian.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2004

    Absolutley the best!

    The first time i heard about this book was when Joyce maynard came into my library, at my middle school, and gave us a speach about her book that was coming out named 'The Usual Rules' i figured 'hey it's just another boring book disscusion' but it was so much more. She (joyce Maynard) read some passages from it, and that day i went and bought the book.I read it in 3 days.i live in nyc with a view of what used to be the twin towers which are now gone. This novel was amazing, and completly touched me and helped me cope with the september 11th attacks.I recommend this book to everyone!I am now a sophmore in high school and still read it on every anniversary of the september 11th attacks. It really helps me out. It is the best book i've ever read! Please if you read this review please know how great this novel actually is and buy the book, you won't regret it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2004

    WOW! Seems like a sadistic idea, but fantastic!

    This is one of the best books I have read in a really long time. I live in NYC and was here to witness the attacks. And even though i did not have a family member who diedin these attacks, I can totally relate to the feelings experianced by the main character. I read it in 2 days, I recommend for all ages but especially middle school ages. You'll love this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews

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