My Little Book World's Reviews > The Usual Rules

The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
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Feb 25, 2011

really liked it
Read from June 10 to 18, 2011

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 has a wonderful relationship with her stepfather. But she also feels has become a burden to him as he deals with his young son and the loss of his beloved wife. So when her father, whom she has rarely seen and her mother hated, shows up at the door one evening to tell her he is taking her back to California with him, she doesn’t put up much of a fight.
I thought the story got a lot more interesting once she reached California. She meets so many interesting people, does things she never would have done previously, and starts to develop a relationship with her father. She learns so much more about life in the time that she is with him. It really made me sympathize with her struggles and uncertainties about her life and the loss of her mother.
All of the characters just seem very realistic and reading about the hopelessness that Wendy felt when the world just seemed to go on without her mother was very believable. She keeps going back to times she was with her mother and feels a lot of regret over her behavior on many of those occasions. It was a very emotional story.
Though I thought the story was excellent, there were just a few things about it that kept me from giving the book 5 stars. The author does not use quotation marks and, in the beginning and few different places throughout the book, it would lose me and I would have to reread a part. Other than that, I really liked her writing style. And there were also a few spots in the book that I found rather drawn out and boring, but the story as a whole made up for that.
It was a very thought-provoking story. I guess I just never really thought about what it was actually like for children whose parents just never came home. I would really recommend it.
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