Study Guide

The Usual Rules Chapter 20

By Joyce Maynard

Chapter 20

  • When Wendy calls Amelia to talk about how bad she feels, Amelia assures her that it's how all teens treat their parents. Then she tells Wendy that she's going on a date with Chief—that new kid at school.
  • Violet admits to Wendy that Walter Charles has been crying nonstop and that she hit him the other day. This reminds Wendy of the one time that her mother ever hit her: It was after they got into that fight about Wendy going to California. When Wendy said her father was the parent who truly loved her, her mom slapped her.
  • After seeing Violet, Wendy stops by the bookstore and asks Alan if he has any books about childcare. She wants something that talks about child abuse in particular. It's obviously for Violet, but Alan doesn't know that and the question worries him; he tells her to come to him if she ever needs help.
  • At home, Wendy takes a shower and realizes that her boobs are growing and she's thinner. She wishes her mom could be here now to see how she's growing up and filling out.
  • When she joins her father and Carolyn in the house, Garrett tells her that she's starting to look like her mother. Then they tell her that they're celebrating a new job that Carolyn landed—she'll be setting up a cactus garden for an office building in Sacramento.
  • Carolyn goes to Chico the next day to buy new cacti, and Wendy decides to come along for the ride.
  • During the car ride, Carolyn reveals to Wendy that her relationship with Garrett works because she doesn't expect too much from him. She also says that she had a baby boy once but gave him up for adoption. She hasn't seen him since.
  • Carolyn tells Wendy that she'll never try to replace her mom, but that she'll be there for Wendy if she ever needs to talk to an older woman.
  • As Wendy continues reading The Member of the Wedding in the car, she finds out that all sorts of terrible things happen to the main character.
  • They reach the cacti farm and Carolyn buys a bunch of stuff, filling up the whole car. Wendy wishes she could have shown it all to Louie because he would have liked to play and pretend that the weird cacti were aliens.