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Critical Praise

"While the first fifty-odd pages of Maynard's new novel are emotionally harrowing, perseverance is rewarded. Set both in Brooklyn and the small town of Davis, California, 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 . . . The intense subject matter and well-crafted flashbacks make for a worthy read . . . 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."

——Publishers Weekly

"Out of violence, sorrow, and loss, Maynard has crafted a miracle: a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful novel that has much to say about families and the ways in which they support and fail each other. At the heart of The Usual Rules is this: love and understanding are the means by which we save ourselves."

——Anne LeClaire, author of Leaving Eden and Entering Normal

"She seems to deeply understand a teenager's grief. Readers…will find it impossible not to root for Wendy as she figures out how to get on with her life."


"Joyce Maynard . . . conveys with poignancy and realism Wendy's struggle to cope with her mother's disappearance. As she finds her own way through the rubble and discovers pockets of hope and optimism in her future, Wendy serves as an inspiration for anyone touched by tragedy, at any age."


"Maynard offers a sensitive account of how 13-year-old Wendy copes with the death of her mother."

——Library Journal

"In the aftermath of September 11, the usual rules don't apply, as this sometimes wrenching, ultimately cathartic novel shows . . . This is a well-wrought and heartfelt portrayal of the people [such tragedies can leave] behind."

——Michele Leber, Booklist

"Wordsworth's prescription for successful poetic writing called for emotion recollected in tranquillity, but in the post-millennial world his advice is decidedly outdated. As if to prove it, a mere 18 months after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the intrepid Joyce Maynard has delivered one of the first novels incorporating that day's horrific events…[The author's] gift for creating realistic and heartfelt domestic moments succeeds in convincing us that Wendy has found a reason to go on in the midst of her tremendous sorrow, and that she, like her heroine Anne Frank, still believes 'in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.'"

——The New York Times Book Review

"Haunting …Maynard's fictional survivor provides deeper solace than the spiritual cheerleading that often applies to coping with loss in our culture…Maynard's feel for the workings of a 13-year-old's internal voice distinguishes The Usual Rules in the same way writer Judy Blume did a generation earlier in Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret … [Maynard] speaks to a generation of young girls who are trying to navigate through a culture of loss, of wanting to belong to a family and at the same time free themselves from the usual rules … [She] explores the idea of family as much as she examines the culture of loss."

——Kathy Balog, USA Today