Study Guide

The Usual Rules Guilt and Blame

By Joyce Maynard

Guilt and Blame

Things are pretty tough in The Usual Rules after Janet dies, and Wendy finds herself wracked with guilt over how she treated her mother in her last days. Even though she's just been having the same kind of problems that thirteen-year-old girls all around the world have with their parents, Wendy feels horrible for fighting with her mother and for saying and thinking mean things about her. Throughout the book, Wendy continues to torture herself with memories of how she disappointed her mother—which only makes her grief and sadness more acute.

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. Why does Wendy feel so bad about what she said to her mother? Be specific, please.
  2. How does Wendy blame her mother for her parents' divorce? How does this affect their relationship? Does it factor into Wendy's grieving process?
  3. How does Wendy feel about Josh when he allows her to go live with Garrett?
  4. What do Garrett and Carolyn do when they learn that Wendy's been skipping school? Why?

Chew on This

When Wendy learns about her mother's death, she has to deal with both the grief of losing her and her guilt over the fact that they were fighting before Janet died.

Garrett wants to be a part of Wendy's life now not just because he feels sorry for her after her mother's death, but because he wants to make it up to her; he knows that he's been a bad and absent father.