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The Usual Rules

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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,299 ratings  ·  174 reviews
It's a Tuesday morning in Brooklyn---a perfect September day. Wendy is 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. A ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published February 18th 2004 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,765)
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Barbara
Aug 21, 2013 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Leah, Kelly, Chrissie
On a sparkling September morning, "Grace", the daughter of my dear friend of many years, joyfully boarded an airplane at Logan Airport in Boston. She was anticipating a trip to California before embarking on a new, exciting phase of her life. Her flight never reached its destination. It senselessly, inconceivably, madly struck the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. "Grace" was 32 years old. It was September 11, 2001, the day which deeply affected everyone. But what about those who lost l ...more
Mary
This is a Young Adults novel, which I didn't realize when I bought it, but I decided to give it a shot--and I'm glad I did. Unlke other books I've read whose main character is a young person--in this case a thirteen-year-old girl--I found Wendy to be entirely believable, and I really sympathized with her struggles and uncertainties. All of the characters were flawed but in normal, easy-to-relate-to ways, and there was an equal ammount of nobility to them. Just like real life! I especially liked ...more
Christina
Once I got used to the lack of quotation marks, I liked this book. The first part, which focused on thirteen year-old Wendy's grief over the loss of her mother in the World Trade Center on September 11, drew me in immediately. I especially liked the chapter in which she finds herself attending the funeral of a firefighter she didn't even know. The second part, in which Wendy abandons her life in New York to live in California with her biological father, didn't quite measure up to the first. None ...more
Ken Bronsil
Sometimes you go back to the same movie over and over again because you have become very emotionally involved in it, or you need the laughs it gives you, or for some other reason. The same with books, and this is one of them for me. Some laughs here--just when you need them. A huge lot of emotional involvement. This was my sixth reading of The Usual Rules.

Joyce Maynard depicts every character, major or minor, with insight and sensitivity. Descriptions, conversations, and narration are consistent
...more
AmyAmy
Is it only me?? Am I the only one who's annoyed and want to shake Wendy, the 13-year-old main character who grieves the loss of her mother who dies in the twin towers on 9-11 within the first few pages of the book?

Yes, yes, it's sad. Yes, yes, tragic in fact. To be honest, my mother died 30 days ago (on January 4, 2014), so I am well aware of grief and mothers dying. I am not heartless.

But I was so very annoyed and frustrated when Wendy left her wonderful step-father and 4-year-old brother to go
...more
M
This was a really rare experience for me. I started this book thinking I would hate it and had a whole nasty rant brewing in my mind (serving as my main incentive for continuing) that went along the lines of 9/11 being the new Holocaust as far as guaranteeing a high GR rating even when the writing is abysmal, and then somewhere along the way this elementary level novel turned on me, in a good way, and I finished it feeling rather in awe.
TUR is about a young girl named Wendy who, on an otherwise
...more
Diana
I have never read a book was that amazing from the introduction to the acknowledgments. I remember where I was on September 11, 2001... I was walking out of my dorm, on my way to classes and I noticed people all around me were either crying or screaming looking at the television. I live in the South so even though we were in no immediate threat of danger, the air felt tense and still. I remember someone calling my cell phone saying they bombed the towers and I was like... what towers? I was so c ...more
Brandi
This book was pretty depressing and hard to cope with sometimes. My heart broke for the family multiple times and it was very hard to finish. In the end I was glad I did, but be warned, it was a tough read.

It's about a family (mom, dad, sister, and brother) whose lives were turned upside down on September 11th. The story is told from the perspective of 13 year old Wendy, who's struggling to come to terms with her teenage years. Her parents were divorced when she was younger and her mother has si
...more
Kdevoli
I am really enjoying this book. Even though the protagoniost is only 13, this author has a way of making adolescence resonate with adult readers. She did the same with her previous book that I enyoyed, Labor Day. In this one, the young girl in the center of the story loses her mom on September 11. She has a 4 year old brother as well, and this is the first 9/11 novel I've read that explores the issue from the point of view of the children affected. Very moving and gripping so far.
Update: Bravo.
...more
Heidi
Since I don't read jacket covers, this book struck me like a brick when I realized it was set in Park Slope and deals with the day of and aftermath of a family who loses a member on 9/11/01. Nearly 10 years after the event, I was carried along with the author as she describes the insanity and the ordinary of that day and the days and months that follow. Narrated by a 13 year old girl, who is reading A Diary of Anne Frank in school when the World Trade Centers are struck, she takes us on an amazi ...more
Vicki
A young girl deals with losing her mother on 9/11. She not only has to cope with the loss, anger, grief and confusion but also with sorting out the whole concept of family. Told from the view of the 13 year old girl, the book doesn't go into long passages of self discover, which is good. Instead we accompany Wendy as she figures out how to get through the days and keep on living. Sometimes she seems to have more street smarts than a 13 year old should, but generally it is believable and an enjoy ...more
Sarah
Outstanding. This is the only fiction novel I know of that has dared to tackle the issue of the September 11 attacks. Joyce Maynard has written a provacotive and surprisingly uplifting story of a thirteen-year-old girl who loses her mother on that awful day. The aftermath of her mother's death leads to chain of events that both strengthens and changes her life forever. Not only does this novel do the victims and their families justice it ranks high among the classic coming of age stories. Highly ...more
Lisa
Feb 01, 2012 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Leslie Wilkins
Shelves: ya
This book is told from the perspective of 13-year-old Wendy, whose mother dies in 9/11. Not only is the narrative voice believable, but the depiction of grief is realistic and extremely well done. In addition to her own mourning, Wendy has a lot to deal with, like figuring out who she is and what she wants. Her journey is heartbreaking yet a testament to the power of the human spirit.
Christian Gompert
I'm having a difficult time gauging my enjoyment of this novel.
My first novel dealing with family, especially child, grief in the aftermath of 9-11 was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. That book was stunning and had an incredible, unique style and voice of an eccentric preteen boy. The Usual Rules was told through a young teenage girl who similarly suffers and searches for answers and escape after the tragedy. This girl is a bit more "normal" but who, in the midst of her anguish, must also
...more
Maria Dudley
This is a YA book, but I really loved it. Would recommend it highly to my (girl) students! You just keep wanting to turn the page. Maynard has such true and lovely insights into so many topics. This is a hard subject to read about though -- a girl who loses her mother in the World Trade Center.
Jennifer (Teen Librarian) Beiermann
Her life as she knows it is gone forever when 13-year-old Wendy hears the news that a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center, her mother's workplace.

Wow! Since I remember that day very well, this book really bought it home again.
Ariana V.
Wendy is a character that I will never forget. The book The Usual Rules is fast moving and is unpredictable. As a 13 year old girl Wendy had faced any problems a girl her age would face such as how she looked to the clothing she wore, but that is the least of her problems. Wendy had faced many problems in her life, however she always found a way to overcome them. I think that anyone can relate to Wendy’s life. No one ever has a perfect life and every one at some point in their life faced a probl ...more
Ringzabell
The book, The Usual Rules, by Joyce Maynard, is a book that makes you think about how awful it would be to lose a parent when you’re a kid. The main character is a teenage girl named Wendy. When 9/11 happens her whole world is turned upside down, because her mother dies in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The book made me feel weird, and I kind of didn't like it. I think it is because I don't like thinking about my mom don’t think anybody does.. I feel kinda bad saying that because ...more
My Little Book World
This book was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
On 9/11, Wendy’s mother was at her job on the 86th floor of one of the World Trade Centers. Wendy, who is 13-years-old, along with her step-father and little brother, can only hold out hope that her mother will be found. As time goes by, it becomes apparent that this will not be the case.
The story is told through Wendy’s eyes and it is very heartbreaking to read of the emotions she goes through. Wendy adores her little brother and h
...more
Rebecca
Ahhh, off the chick-lit kick. i really need some variety. so i took out two books in a row about 9/11 (another topic of interest to me) and there were very different.

i liked this book a lot as it was a work of fiction. girl's mother works in the WTC and dies in the attacks. she lives with her step-father and half-brother, but after her mom dies, she goes to live with her dad in california for a while. people that help her heal come in and out of her life. a character i really liked that you usua
...more
Susy
I've been interested in Joyce Maynard from the early 80's when her syndicated column about the mixed bag of being a writer/mom/wife appeared in the Sacramento Bee. It seemed so clear to me that she was torn between these roles so it was no surprise when I read she'd split up with her spouse & moved to Northern California. Now & again, she'd do a reading at our local book store but I never managed to read any of her novels. And then she appeared in conversation on the Goodreads site and I ...more
Joan Snodgrass Callaway
Because my eyes keep flooding with tears I've been unable to finish the book at one sitting. What an accurate picture of the early stages of grief in both teenager and spouse. The book could have been written about any sudden death situation - I think she didn't need to tie it to 9/11 to make the same observations about Wendy's reactions to people and triggers.

Since It's an Ill Wind, Indeed...deals with the same issues, but without 9/11, I can barely wait to find out how Wendy manages the next
...more
Jan
May 27, 2011 Jan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jan by: Marilyn
Like most Americans, I remembrt where I was on 9/11 and during the aftermath that followed. I shed many tears and said prayers for the victims and their families, the survivors. While I may have wondered, over the weeks and months that followed, how the survivors were coping, the feelings were absract, in general, relating to no one in particular. Maynard's story of Wendy and her family struck such a serve. My heart just broke for this child and her family. I find it difficult to believe these c ...more
Sandi
A sweet story! I liked how the author fit the title, "The Usual Rules" into the text, several times throughout the story. :) Any type of heartache tied to 9-11 pulls at the heart strings and I found myself tearing up at times. I do like the simplicity of Joyce Maynard's writing style; an easy, quick read. My only complaint is the story line between our main character, Wendy, and Todd didn't develop further. I liked the little skater boy, she met and just by chance connected with her father at th ...more
Hao (EVHS) Le
This book was all about the connection of family members, and how Wendy build her deep love with her brother. After her mom died in the incident of 2001, Wendy came back with her dad in California and this is where her family rebuild. This book was really interesting to read, somehow it also related to my family as well. Understand more about your family and try to forgive whatever their mistakes is, because you know life is short and we have to live an enjoyable one.
Heather Leach
I have had this book for quite some time and simply just had not gotten around to reading it.....boy am I sorry that I did not pick it up sooner. What an incredibly touching and emotional journey that really is a must read. The characters are all wonderfully rich, with each playing an important role on this young survivors journey. This is definitely a must keep to read a few more times!
Snickerdoodle
This is a coming of age novel. The backdrop is 9/11 - Wendy's Mom goes to work in one of the towers as usual - and doesn't come home. Wendy is 13 and now, on top of the usual adolescent issues, she has the grief of losing her Mom so suddenly. There are at least a thousand ways to work out this kind of story...... I very much like Joyce Maynard's version. There's deep emotion here and wisdom throughout. Written beautifully, from the heart.
Jaclyn
I really, really like this book. I like it so much in fact that after reading my sister's copy seven or eight years ago, I thought about it enough to buy it for myself and reread it. It's not perfect, but I am so impressed by Maynard's ability to tell an authentic story without dipping into the overly-dramatic or overly-simplified. 9/11 is such a hard topic to use as a backdrop for a story, but Maynard tells a poignant coming-of-age story about a girl named Wendy who loses her mom in the towers. ...more
Elizabeth
I was very disappointed with this novel. After reading Maynard's Labor Day, I expected the same excitement. Wendy lost her mom to 9/11. Novel is based on Wendy's life dealing with the pain and changes she's going through. Moving to California to live with her dad--I wasn't impressed. But I'm still going to pick up Maynard's books!
N.
This was a moving journey through the devastating effects of the events of 9/11 on the youngest victims. Maynard did an amazing job of getting into the head of a teenage girl dealing with the ramifications of an unimaginable tragedy. The emotion expressed was raw and unfiltered; it allowed the reader to feel the pain and uncertainty of it all, right along with her. Some of the situations Wendy was cast into were somewhat improbable, but were also a reflection of the chaos of the situation, where ...more
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What should I read next? 1 2 Jun 01, 2012 05:16AM  
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Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR ...more
More about Joyce Maynard...
Labor Day The Good Daughters After Her At Home in the World To Die for

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“You just want to give up, he said when he was able to speak. Only you keep going. You still have to get up in the morning and pour the cereal in the bowls. You keep on breathing, whether you want to or not. Nobody's around to tell you how it's supposed to work. The usual rules just don't apply anymore.

He was still talking, but she wasn't even sure if it was to her.

When it started, he said, I thought nothing could be worse than those first days. And it wasn't only us, but everyone else you'd see, wandering around like they'd landed on a whole different planet. Instead of just dealing with your own heart getting ripped into pieces, wherever you looked you knew there were other people dealing with the same thing. You couldn't even be alone with it. Like you're out in the ocean and the undertow catches you and you start yelling for help, but then you look around, and all around you in the water for as far as you can see, there's all these other people flailing too.

He sat there for a moment, shaking his head.

You keep getting up in the morning and knowing this will continue maybe ten thousand more mornings. You wish you were the one who died.

How much better would that be?”
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