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The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
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The Usual Rules

by Joyce Maynard

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This book was soooo sad. It made me grateful for alot of things, but the ending didn't accomplish anything really. There wasn't a satisfying conclusion at all. It was just a sad book that ended sadly too. But it was a good read. It made me stop and think alot about life. ( )
  bookwormie8katie | Apr 6, 2010 |
A bit weird with little to no quotation marks between characters, but the plot itself is definitely nothing usual with the setting of 9/11 as the background. ( )
  nothingtosay | Jan 16, 2010 |
It's an average day in teenager Wendy's life when she argues with her mom before school, and they go off to conduct their respective lives. Unfortunately, the day is anything but usual because Wendy's mom has gone to her job at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Wendy's world turns upside down as she is left to deal with her mother's death, and the grief that her stepfather and younger brother experience.
It's a heartbreaking story, but Wendy is resilient and has the ability to come out of this horrible tragedy on the other side. ( )
  KarriesKorner | Feb 19, 2009 |
The Usual Rules is a great book. It's about a teenage girl who's going through a lot in her life. She's experiencing many changes, and her parents don't understand her. ( )
  hayleyd | Mar 11, 2008 |
A realistic, but very moving story about a young girl's life after her mother is killed on Sept.11. I loved all of the characters and was so glad that there was hope for Wendy at the end. ( )
  yalibzrule | Feb 28, 2008 |
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Epigraph
It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.

It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.

- - Anne Frank, in her diary, July 15, 1944
Dedication
For my daughter and sons, Audrey, Charlie, and Willy Bethel, whose love for one another shines through even when continents separate them, just as it did when the space they shared was no larger than the backseat of an old Ford station wagon, with a harried mother at the wheel.

All the best parts of the young people in this book came from my life with you.
First words
It was a story Wendy knew well, how she got her name.
Quotations
His kiss was more the way she had expected it to be the other time, with Todd. Sticking on the postage stamp. She saw that she would have to show him.

She moved her chair closer so it wouldn't be so awkward. She put one arm around his neck and put her mouth against his. Two clarinet players, she thought, working on their embouchure.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312283695, Paperback)

Wendy, the 13-year-old heroine of Joyce Maynard's The Usual Rules, lives in a happy, haphazard Brooklyn household with her dancer/secretary mom, her jazz musician stepfather, and her eccentric little brother. Life for Wendy is fraught with the usual teen angst until September 11, when her mom heads off to work at the World Trade Center and never comes home. Wendy struggles through the days with stepfather Josh and brother Louis until on Halloween night her estranged biological father shows up and offers to take her home with him to California. On the West Coast, Wendy devises her own healing process of skipping school, hanging around with an unwed teen mom, and spending hours loafing at a bookstore. Maynard is very good on Wendy's grief. She tries on one of her mother's dresses and realizes with a shock it still holds her mom's perfume. She's undone for a moment, then reaches "for the bottle of aftershave on Josh's bureau and patted some on her neck and arms. If you were going to smell like one of your parents, it was better to smell like the one who wasn't dead." She's equally convincing when she writes about Wendy's developing relationship with her loner dad and her growing understanding that Josh and Louis are now her real family. This graceful book about loss and adolescence is marred only by its use of September 11 as its milieu. Maynard sketches in some scenes at Ground Zero and some firefighter characters, but in the main the book is really about a girl and her dead mother. Using the Trade Center tragedy as a jumping-off point doesn't deepen the story; in fact, it seems a bit opportunistic. Maynard should have trusted the elegant, compassionate material at the heart of her book. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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 who lose their parents, parents who lose their children, and the unexpected ways they sometimes find one another again. Set against the backdrop of global and personal tragedy, and written in a style alternately wry and heartbreaking, The Usual Rules is an unexpectedly hopeful story of healing and forgiveness that will offer readers, young and old alike, a picture of how, out of the rubble, a family rebuilds its life."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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