Study Guide

The Usual Rules Part 1, Chapter 1

By Joyce Maynard

Part 1, Chapter 1

New York

  • It's just another day for Wendy, who is now a thirteen-year-old girl living in New York City with her mom, stepfather Josh, and half-brother Louie.
  • Even though Josh isn't her real dad, she considers him more of a father than Garrett has ever been since he's the one who actually helped to raise her.
  • Wendy and her mother are currently having a bit of a tiff because her mother doesn't want her to go to California to visit her father—you know, since she's in school. Her mom doesn't think Wendy should just take off.
  • During breakfast, they talk about Louie's preschool orientation, which is happening this Thursday. He's really excited and wants them all to be there.
  • Wendy thinks about when her mom and Josh first started dating and how she wanted to hate him but just couldn't. Josh was nice to her right away and even taught her how to make brownies from scratch. Mmm…
  • Now Josh tells her to go into the bedroom and say goodbye to her mom before she leaves, but Wendy says she's late and rushes out the door to get to school instead. She also says that she'll be hanging out with Amelia—her best friend—after school.
  • She rides the bus to school and gets there in time for homeroom class. She thinks about how she got a letter from her father last week asking her to come visit, even though he hadn't let her come during the summer. Huh.
  • Later on, Wendy will think back on this mundane time in homeroom class and wish she could press pause before everything changed.
  • The bell for first period doesn't ring on schedule, and everyone is confused. Then the principal comes on the loudspeaker and announces that there's been an accident. Uh-oh… This can't be good.