Study Guide

The Usual Rules Memory and the Past

By Joyce Maynard

Memory and the Past

Because Wendy is dealing with the grief of losing her mother, The Usual Rules is rife with flashbacks and memories from her past filled with details of interactions with her mother and the relationship they used to have. Now that her mother is dead, these long-ago memories are all Wendy has of her, and she keeps bringing them up in order to keep her mother's memory alive.

Thing is, even remembering her mother can be tough sometimes. Wendy is filled with regret by memories of the arguments they had or times when she was just a little brat. She wants to take it all back. But she can't.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why is Wendy so focused on memories of when she was mean to her mother? Why not focus on the good times?
  2. How do Garrett's memories of his upbringing affect the way that he treats his own daughter?
  3. Do you think Wendy's memories of her mother are accurate? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Even remembering good times with her mother pains Wendy because she recognizes that she'll never have those times back or be able to create new memories with her mother.

Although Todd had a pretty awful family life when he was younger, he still remembers the kind things that his brother did for him, and these memories are what compel him to search the country for Kevin.