got 102 minutes?: sensitive survivor’s guilt tale

the usual rules

Last Saturday, when I was thumbing through at least 8 or 9 works of 9/11 fiction at the Central National Library, trying to decide within a brief amount of time I had which was worth a read, at least a first-read, Joyce Maynard’s The Usual Rules almost didn’t make the cut at first. I had just finished Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s more mature, adult take on survivor’s guilt in The Writing on the Wall (which someday I will comment about here), and I didn’t want to labour through a Teen-Lite version.  Plus the fact that it was a hardcover edition and, at 300-plus pages, didn’t make it the easiest tome to be lugging around.  But I’m glad I did.  Maynard doesn’t over-write her teenage main character, and though she sometimes go all Thomas Hardy, omniscient author making sure her readers get the point, there are some nice, subtle symbolic touches interspersed throughout the book.  The cynic in me cannot really believe in the good-two-shoe-ness of all her characters, but hey, this is after all still Teen-Lite we’re talking about here.  As a member of The Job, I must say this is well worth any junior high reading list, and the prevailing bildungsroman themes of relationships and personal growth in a complex and uncertain world certaintly merits a read.  The book also references Anne Frank’s Diary and Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Family, perhaps trying to establish the rightfulness of its lineage with its more illustrious predecessors. It was an enjoyable experience reading this book.


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