Study Guide

The Usual Rules Friendship

By Joyce Maynard


In The Usual Rules, when Wendy finds out her mother has died in the World Trade Center attacks, she relies heavily on her family and friends to help her through this difficult time. Her best friend, Amelia, who is often funny and sarcastic, totally gives her a shoulder to cry on, and her mother's best friend, Kate, checks in all the time to make sure Wendy, Josh, and Louie are getting on okay. Even after Wendy moves to Davis, she continues to lean on her friends, both old and new. Her new friends—Carolyn, Alan, Violet, and Todd—all rise to the occasion and help her to work through her grief, too. Go team.

Questions About Friendship

  1. How does Wendy's friendship with Amelia change after she moves to California? Does it change at its core or just in superficial ways?
  2. Do you think Kate is a bad friend for starting a relationship with Josh? Why or why not?
  3. Why is Wendy so drawn to Todd when she first meets him? Be specific and give evidence from the text.

Chew on This

Even though Amelia seems inconsiderate when she talks about how Wendy's mother is dead, she's really being a good friend and giving Wendy what she needs in her life—a dose of the cold, hard truth.

When Wendy moves to California, she wants to start over, and in doing so makes friends with people she never would have talked to in the past—like a single teenage mom (Violet) and a middle-aged bookstore owner (Alan). These friendships help her relate differently to herself and her life.