This is How It Always Is
This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.This is how children change…and then change the world.This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

This is How It Always Is Details

TitleThis is How It Always Is
Author
FormatKindle Edition
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 24th, 2017
PublisherFlatiron Books
Number of pages336 pages
Rating
GenreAdult, Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Family, Fiction, Glbt

This is How It Always Is Review

  • Amy
    March 2, 2017
    I devoured This Is How it Always Is in less than 24 hours and found it to be a compelling read as a parent. This fictional story is about a little boy named Claude who knows that, more than anything, he wants to grow up to be a girl.Lucky for Claude, he has two parents who deeply desire for him to be happy and it is with his happiness in mind that they work together to help Claude be who he is. When they feel Claude’s happiness is at stake, they decide to move to a town who will be more open to I devoured This Is How it Always Is in less than 24 hours and found it to be a compelling read as a parent. This fictional story is about a little boy named Claude who knows that, more than anything, he wants to grow up to be a girl.Lucky for Claude, he has two parents who deeply desire for him to be happy and it is with his happiness in mind that they work together to help Claude be who he is. When they feel Claude’s happiness is at stake, they decide to move to a town who will be more open to who he is and Claude becomes Poppy.Their new friends and neighbors do not know about Claude and it is a secret that they keep to protect her. The question becomes, what happens when people find out and what’s next for Poppy.Frankel shares that she is the mother of a little boy who is now a girl, but reassures readers this is not their story, but a fictional story to discuss more of a broader social issue that roads are not always clearly defined for each child.If you are looking for a book club book that will lead to a good discussion, you will find a lot to talk about in this beautiful story.Read our interview with Frankel this month as we discuss this beautiful book!- http://bit.ly/2m0pJZS
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  • Anne
    March 2, 2017
    When I received my advance copy of This Is How It Always Is, it was accompanied by a letter written by the author. It is a beautiful letter that goes some way to explaining how this book came about. It is a brave and honest letter and this novel is also brave, honest and incredibly heart warming.I'll admit that I struggled with the first thirty pages or so, I haven't read this author before and I didn't know if I could cope with her writing style in the beginning. It's kind of erratic at times, When I received my advance copy of This Is How It Always Is, it was accompanied by a letter written by the author. It is a beautiful letter that goes some way to explaining how this book came about. It is a brave and honest letter and this novel is also brave, honest and incredibly heart warming.I'll admit that I struggled with the first thirty pages or so, I haven't read this author before and I didn't know if I could cope with her writing style in the beginning. It's kind of erratic at times, jumping from place to place and character to character, it was difficult to keep up. Something just fell into place though and when baby Claude is born and introduced to the reader, I was smitten, Just as his parents were.Claude was the fifth boy born to Rosie and Penn, they'd done everything they could to try to have a daughter. All the old-wives tales had been listened to and strange rituals carried out, but Claude arrived, a little boy, another to add to their loving family. Rosie is a busy doctor whilst Penn is a writer and works from home. Family life is chaotic, but happy. Their boys are bright and sparky, full of ideas and imagination, the perfect blend of both parents.When Claude starts to ask if he will be a girl when he grows up and wearing a dress, his parents and brothers accept this as one of his many quirks. It's only when he insists that he must wear the dress to school that Rosie and Penn begin to realise that this is much more than a passing fad. These are modern, loving and accepting parents, whose children are the same, and for them this is a little bit different, but fine. However, other people are not so accepting and this novel follows Claude's growth, and his battles along the way.Written with sensitivity, humour and complete sincerity, This Is How It Always Is is a study in enduring love and loyalty. It also highlights the difficulties and the heartache encountered by Claude and the rest of his family.Totally absorbing and exquisitely composed, this is an insightful novel that broadens the imagination, explores reality and warms the heart.http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox...
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  • Amy
    March 1, 2017
    Although this book takes on an issue that is fairly timely given it’s prominence in the media these days, I don’t think it’s in any way a preachy book. It does a good job of exploring the issue without making the whole book about convincing someone to change their mind about the issue. Have you noticed that I’m not telling you much about the issue … that is intentional. I think this book is better without knowing much going in; to experience the issue via the story unfolding is priceless here. B Although this book takes on an issue that is fairly timely given it’s prominence in the media these days, I don’t think it’s in any way a preachy book. It does a good job of exploring the issue without making the whole book about convincing someone to change their mind about the issue. Have you noticed that I’m not telling you much about the issue … that is intentional. I think this book is better without knowing much going in; to experience the issue via the story unfolding is priceless here. But, this book is about much more than just the issue … it’s about parenting, family, identity, nature vs nurture, working parents, etc. As a parent, this book really spoke to me and that idea that we’re always trying to do our best for our kids but that we make mistakes and go down the wrong path sometimes … that we are never doing this parenting thing perfectly … that there really is no perfect. I loved this aspect of the novel – the exploration of parents doing the best they can for their family, the exploration of working both inside & outside of the home and trying to be true to your family’s needs. It all spoke to me so deeply.I found this particular family to be so well drawn. I felt their pain, their sorrow, their joy and their love for one another in every single word. Exploring a hot button issue within that context gives this story that much more weight. Although not a perfect book, I really loved this one and was able to overlook what I consider to be small issues (mostly things/components wrapping up a little too easy for me). I don’t think those small issues outweigh the impact the story and the characters had on me. I won’t forget this book for a long time. I highly recommend it!
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  • Samantha Price
    February 26, 2017
    Rosie and Penn have five sons, until Claude decides one day that she'd like to be Poppy. Her parents are incredibly supportive (allowing her to wear a pink bikini all summer when she was 5). One day, she brings her lunch to school in a purse and the story really starts here. Relevant, especially this week as Trump has disallowed those identifying as trans from using their gender appropriate bathrooms - this book was educational but it was also really funny. Really sweet. Well-written. Focuses on Rosie and Penn have five sons, until Claude decides one day that she'd like to be Poppy. Her parents are incredibly supportive (allowing her to wear a pink bikini all summer when she was 5). One day, she brings her lunch to school in a purse and the story really starts here. Relevant, especially this week as Trump has disallowed those identifying as trans from using their gender appropriate bathrooms - this book was educational but it was also really funny. Really sweet. Well-written. Focuses on Poppy but on the growth of her brothers, friends and parents as well. I was disappointed in the last few chapters, because I didn't think this story would have a fairy tale ending. It tied up a little too perfectly. That's where it lost a star, or else it would have been 4 all the way.
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  • Oreoandlucy
    February 26, 2017
    A longer review is available on my blog:http://reviewsofbooksonmynightstand.b...The characters were developed in this novel but not quite as complex as I would have liked. Rosie's character very much followed the over-worked doctor character and Penn was the quintessential writer who tries so hard to finish the great American novel but just can't seem to do it. That being said, there were a lot of discussions in this book about the "maybes" of gender and the children's characters reflect that. T A longer review is available on my blog:http://reviewsofbooksonmynightstand.b...The characters were developed in this novel but not quite as complex as I would have liked. Rosie's character very much followed the over-worked doctor character and Penn was the quintessential writer who tries so hard to finish the great American novel but just can't seem to do it. That being said, there were a lot of discussions in this book about the "maybes" of gender and the children's characters reflect that. The kids were my favorite characters in this novel. This novel flows very well and is easy to read. It was a fast-read and was very enjoyable. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to those looking for a novel about family.
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  • Deanna
    February 23, 2017
    This is a good book. It's interesting. The characters are engaging. The overt theme is controversial, there are many themes than the obvious. It's complex.Rosie and Penn have a rock solid relationship; I liked them a whole bunch, but I was also (at times) annoyed with them too. The family is idyllic and almost a little too perfect with how they dealt with the circumstances and secrets. There is tension and uncertainty but no flaws really, a bit too picturesque — these are my complaints for the s This is a good book. It's interesting. The characters are engaging. The overt theme is controversial, there are many themes than the obvious. It's complex.Rosie and Penn have a rock solid relationship; I liked them a whole bunch, but I was also (at times) annoyed with them too. The family is idyllic and almost a little too perfect with how they dealt with the circumstances and secrets. There is tension and uncertainty but no flaws really, a bit too picturesque — these are my complaints for the story, everyone got along far too well considering the toll of the secret. It was all a bit too perfect. Even so, Rosie and Penn's relationship is breathtaking. It was refreshing to read about a mom and dad trying to figure out the life of their family in a thoughtful manner; their problem solving, compassionate and loving approach is admirable. Still, there is something about this book that didn't sit right with me,and no it wasn't the secret. I think it was the lack of other perspectives, and the preachy tone. This Is How It Always Is did not persuade me one way or the other; it did cause me to pause and consider the complexity of life. For certain, the author did a beautiful job bringing this story into being, but I found myself bored. I almost put this book down at page 177, I'm glad I didn't.This is a good story, there are many words and thoughts within these pages that are quote worthy. This book makes you think.
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  • Sandra
    February 21, 2017
    When I started this book I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I thought it was going to be preachy and would try too hard to sway the reader to form an opinion. It didn't. Frankel simply told a beautiful story about what the power of secret/lie does to the fabric of a family. Well done!
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  • Vegantrav
    February 19, 2017
    A family drama that you simply cannot put down? A story about a couple with five children that will have you turning pages faster than practically any murder mystery or thriller? A novel about parental love, about embracing difference, and about learning to empathize with others that captures your attention and interest more than a rip-roaring fantasy or science fiction epic? Yes, that's what this novel is.While it's still relatively early in 2017, I have no doubt that This Is How It Always Is w A family drama that you simply cannot put down? A story about a couple with five children that will have you turning pages faster than practically any murder mystery or thriller? A novel about parental love, about embracing difference, and about learning to empathize with others that captures your attention and interest more than a rip-roaring fantasy or science fiction epic? Yes, that's what this novel is.While it's still relatively early in 2017, I have no doubt that This Is How It Always Is will be on my list of best new books of 2017. I love this book. This book is why I read. It's why books are written. It's a wonderful story with great characters and an important moral--not a preachy moral, not a sappy moral, not a simplistic moral, but a moral about how to be a good person, about how to treat others with the love and respect that they deserve under circumstances that are rare but not so rare that most of will never encounter them. Over the last few years, there have been a number of studies that have shown that the more that one reads, the more empathetic and understanding one is, and This Is How It Always Is is a book that will open up and change people's minds. It will help many readers identify with someone who is different from them, and for some readers, it will tell a story that is similar to theirs--give voice to their story, and in hearing that story that Western society has largely tried to silence, it will, hopefully, make those of us who read this novel more empathetic, more understanding, and more loving.This Is How It Always Is is the story of Claude, a little boy who even before he starts school recognizes that he is not like other boys. Claude feels like a girl, and so Claude becomes Poppy. Luckily, Poppy has a mother and father who are very understanding and supportive, but even with great parents, a little girl who just happens to have a penis is not a little girl that is readily accepted in contemporary Western society. Poppy's story is heart-breaking, inspiring, and educational. And it's also a spectacular mystery: we know the crisis that is coming in Poppy's life (the narrator makes this clear early on), but we don't know when or how it will come, nor do we know how Poppy and her family will cope with it, and we can barely turn the pages fast enough to find out. This is just a first-rate story.And it is written in such wonderful prose. The author, Laurie Frankel, has the perfect storytelling voice. As you are reading this novel, you will feel that you are just sitting at the feet of a master storyteller listening to her spin out her magnificent tale. You will never find yourself bored, and you will find yourself in constant anticipation of what will happen next. Frankel's prose sparkles with the magic of an enchantress. She is a stellar writer in complete command of her craft.If I were head librarian of the universe, This Is How It Always Is would be on every shelf in every library and bookstore. I would petition the schools to make it mandatory reading for every high school student. Every adult, too, should read this novel: it has something to teach us all. This book gives voice to voices too long silenced and does so in the most engaging way possible. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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  • Maureen
    February 17, 2017
    So these are my thoughts about this book...important topic, glad to see an author writing a novel that is accessible to everyone, grew weary with the characters about 80% through, understand there are no pat answers here but I just wanted someone to make a friggin decision already, jarring changes in the plot. So, yeah.
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  • Barbara
    February 16, 2017
    WOW!!! I found this novel amazing: amazing domestic fiction, amazing literature, amazing subject matter. I urge all readers who read to learn of the human condition; who read to consider ideas; who read to change your perspective on the world; who read for the love of reading to read this novel.It’s a story of a family with five boys, and these boys are hilarious and rambunctious. The mother is an Emergency Physician and the father is an unpublished novelist and stay-at-home Dad. Both parents ha WOW!!! I found this novel amazing: amazing domestic fiction, amazing literature, amazing subject matter. I urge all readers who read to learn of the human condition; who read to consider ideas; who read to change your perspective on the world; who read for the love of reading to read this novel.It’s a story of a family with five boys, and these boys are hilarious and rambunctious. The mother is an Emergency Physician and the father is an unpublished novelist and stay-at-home Dad. Both parents have been strong in their parenting that each child can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. Find your passion, work hard at it, and you and be whatever you desire. The youngest boy wants to be a Princess. If he can’t be that, he wants to be a girl. What I loved most about the novel is the honesty in the parental struggle of allowing your child to express himself and protecting him. Every parent can identify those days when the scariest part of your day is when your child leaves the safety of your home and goes out in public. All children are eccentric; that’s what makes them wonderful. How the world responds to each child’s eccentricities is a crap shot. Another piece to this novel that I found enlightening is how schools and administration respond to transgender children. What I previously determined as reasonable responses became glaringly clear that many are fraught with complications. What I enjoyed was the domestic fiction piece: how this affects the other children in the family. How this affects parenting and each parent’s individual struggle. Plus it is an enjoyable read of parenting boys and parenting five children.In this novel, the author chose to have the family keep the biological gender of the youngest boy a secret. Author Laurie Frankel explores how secrets eat at each family member; the struggle and anguish of keeping this secret. What Frankel was able to do in this novel is show that this family is every family. We can all identify with the chaos of raising children, of parenting, of marriage. It’s domestic fiction at it’s best. The added bonus is the enlightening piece. There is no political message in this novel. The message is the struggle of parenting, working, and keeping the marital bond. This is a beautiful story of a family.
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  • Michelle
    February 14, 2017
    3.5 starsThis is How It Always Is was well on its way to being a 5 star read for me. I LOVED parts 1 and 2. But after that, the book kind of fell off the rails for me. Part 3 just didn't seem to mesh well with the rest of the book. Part of why I liked the first parts of the book so much were the interactions between all the siblings and their parents. When those were absent for Part 3, it just felt like it was missing something.I also felt like it all just wrapped up too tidy in the end, which i 3.5 starsThis is How It Always Is was well on its way to being a 5 star read for me. I LOVED parts 1 and 2. But after that, the book kind of fell off the rails for me. Part 3 just didn't seem to mesh well with the rest of the book. Part of why I liked the first parts of the book so much were the interactions between all the siblings and their parents. When those were absent for Part 3, it just felt like it was missing something.I also felt like it all just wrapped up too tidy in the end, which isn't representative of real life. For example, while it was lovely gesture, would a 10 year boy really ask a 10 year old Claude/Poppy to dance and risk the ridicule of his friends and classmates? Seems doubtful. Despite the issues mentioned above, I would still recommend this book even though it was bumped down to a 3.5 star read for me.
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  • Jill Hennessy
    February 12, 2017
    This book is written so honestly and with such heart and humor that I would have thought it was nonfiction....it is not, although the author suggests that the storyline is based on true circumstances. Although the story is about a transgender child, the bigger story is how parents will always move heaven and earth for their children and their families. And I love that.
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  • Jennifer Blankfein
    February 12, 2017
    Rosie, a doctor, and Penn, a writer, are married with 5 young sons. When Claude, their youngest was three he wanted to wear dresses. Rosie and Penn encouraged Claude to express himself how he liked but when it came time for school his freedom of dress was not well received by the administration and questioned by the other kids. After smoothing things over, it was decided Claude would be living as a girl named Poppy, but after an unfortunate incident with Poppy's friend’s father, the entire famil Rosie, a doctor, and Penn, a writer, are married with 5 young sons. When Claude, their youngest was three he wanted to wear dresses. Rosie and Penn encouraged Claude to express himself how he liked but when it came time for school his freedom of dress was not well received by the administration and questioned by the other kids. After smoothing things over, it was decided Claude would be living as a girl named Poppy, but after an unfortunate incident with Poppy's friend’s father, the entire family moved to a new town and chose to keep the fact that Poppy was born a boy under wraps. Faced with thoughts about hormone blockers and surgery to bullying, prejudice and which bathroom to use, Rosie and Penn’s heads were spinning as they tried to make a living and emotionally support all 5 of their children. Poppy’s brothers had to work out their own individual feelings, keeping the secret of Poppy's physical gender while they pursue their desires to support and defend their youngest sibling. Poppy battled with identity, unsure if she is truely Claude or Poppy, girl or boy, or maybe a little of both. And when the secret is out, everyone at school is up in arms and Rosie and Poppy take some time away. Being away from Penn and the other boys allows time for everyone to recapture some clarity and truth. Laurie Frankel gives an accurate account of issues surrounding transgender with sensitivity and humor. Feeling like one is born in the wrong body is a complex situation and every step of the way there are answers that seem to lead to more questions. We have come a long way but have so much further to go.The sooner we talk about the issues and choices surrounding transgender children (and adults) the more information we are exposed to, the more understanding and support we can provide.“When you are alone keeping secrets, you get fear. When you tell, you get magic. Twice. You find out you are not alone. And so does everyone else. That's how everything gets better. “Loved this book. Visit my blog Book Nation by Jen https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.comto see a review from guest blogger Heather Frimmer.
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  • Rachel
    February 11, 2017
    I don't really know what to make out of This is How It Always Is. Obviously, it's one of Those Books. You know, the ones that sends out important messages about controversial, maybe not-commonly-tackled-in-fiction kind of social issues. But is that all there is to it? Personally, I can't say the story does very much for me. Admittedly, I'm not exactly a fan of how it's written. Some people say it's a little too unrealistic, and I find myself agreeing in some parts. Everything is too ... perfect, I don't really know what to make out of This is How It Always Is. Obviously, it's one of Those Books. You know, the ones that sends out important messages about controversial, maybe not-commonly-tackled-in-fiction kind of social issues. But is that all there is to it? Personally, I can't say the story does very much for me. Admittedly, I'm not exactly a fan of how it's written. Some people say it's a little too unrealistic, and I find myself agreeing in some parts. Everything is too ... perfect, if that makes any sense. Rosie and Penn are easily the perfect couple who somehow make everything in their life work. And this seems to extend towards parenting, too. The only whirlwind that appears to stir their perfect lives around is their youngest baby boy, Claude. (Let it also be known that Claude is essentially another product of perfection, too. Intelligent beyond his years, well-behaved, the single soldier amongst his brothers rallying for feminism ("I'm bored of a prince. I want [a story with] a princess") before he gets to kindergarten. It's almost as if Claude's gender dysphoria is his only "flaw".) (I'm not sure if that's something I should consider offensive.)I couldn't bring myself to finish the novel -- I'm choosing to put it down at this point because I'm really not into the story now -- but what I've read thus far makes for some important, if not necessary, read for parents. I don't have children and don't plan to at any point in the future, but I think Rosie and Penn sets the kind of standard that we should strive towards. Respecting children as individuals, spending quality time with them, listening and talking to them as equals. Like I said, a book with important messages.
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  • Cody
    February 8, 2017
    Gender dysphoria. It's a controversial topic that makes some people uncomfortable; Laurie Frankel tackles it head-on in This Is How It Always Is, a relatively short novel (it clocks in at about 320 pages) about a young boy, Claude, who feels he is a girl and desires to live the life of one. The story largely focuses on the family structure: Claude is the youngest of five kids — all boys — and was borne to two progressive, understanding parents. But all the liberalism and understanding in the wor Gender dysphoria. It's a controversial topic that makes some people uncomfortable; Laurie Frankel tackles it head-on in This Is How It Always Is, a relatively short novel (it clocks in at about 320 pages) about a young boy, Claude, who feels he is a girl and desires to live the life of one. The story largely focuses on the family structure: Claude is the youngest of five kids — all boys — and was borne to two progressive, understanding parents. But all the liberalism and understanding in the world cannot solve every problem. True gender dysphoria, as Claude has, is confusing and scary and causes a lot of trouble. Frankel does not shy away from it; instead, she shines a bright light on the issue and dares the reader to look, to feel. I enjoyed this read. I loved every moment spent with Claude (or Poppy, the name he takes after his transformation) and the rest of the family; they were a joy to read about. I must admit, however, the parents and others felt a little too understanding at times. I mean, yeah, there were conflicts here and there, but by and large this family is wholly accepting of this phenomenon that is more common than folks would care to admit. Perhaps I felt a bit of disconnect because I'm from the south. High-level tolerance and understanding is rare around here. Maybe it's different in Wisconsin (and later, Washington), which is where this story takes place. I dunno. It just felt a little unrealistic to me. Maybe? I'm giving this 3.5 stars. It was a good, provocative read, but it is not without issues. Some of the peripheral characters are total ciphers; the whole Thailand plot is random and almost pointless; the ending is almost too tidy. Still, I would recommend this one for its wonderful message alone, despite its blemishes.
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  • Jessica
    February 8, 2017
    I would love to represent more books just like this. I loved the family dynamics of this and how they all faced one child's outing as transgender. #MSWL
  • Mary Lange
    February 8, 2017
    Absolutely perfect from start to finish. Hands down my favorite book of 2017, by far. ❤
  • Louise Wilson
    February 7, 2017
    Rosie & Penn have 5 sons. Then one day, the youngest son, Claude, announces he should have been born a girl, and wants to be known as Poppy.The story is so current just now. We are hearing more and more of children who have been born the wrong gender. The author deals with the subject with a mixture of humour and honesty, but it's tactful at the same time. It covers transgender by expressing people's beliefs in such a young age. A beautifully written, honest look into transgender life.I woul Rosie & Penn have 5 sons. Then one day, the youngest son, Claude, announces he should have been born a girl, and wants to be known as Poppy.The story is so current just now. We are hearing more and more of children who have been born the wrong gender. The author deals with the subject with a mixture of humour and honesty, but it's tactful at the same time. It covers transgender by expressing people's beliefs in such a young age. A beautifully written, honest look into transgender life.I would like to thank NetGalley, Headline and the author Laurie Frankel for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sue Dix
    February 6, 2017
    I don't want to give any hints as to what this book is about. Don't read about it first, don't read the blurb on the dust jacket. Don't read a recap. Just read it, as I was told to do. You won't regret it.
  • Larry Hoffer
    February 4, 2017
    I'm about 4.5, maybe 4.75 stars.Penn and Rosie fell in love almost instantaneously. Penn was a writer forever working on his "damned novel," while Rosie worked as an emergency room doctor forever on the night shift. When they decided to have children, especially as their family grew to four boys, they adopted a tandem approach to parenting—"It was just that there was way more to do than two could manage, but by their both filling every spare moment, some of what needed to got done."One final try I'm about 4.5, maybe 4.75 stars.Penn and Rosie fell in love almost instantaneously. Penn was a writer forever working on his "damned novel," while Rosie worked as an emergency room doctor forever on the night shift. When they decided to have children, especially as their family grew to four boys, they adopted a tandem approach to parenting—"It was just that there was way more to do than two could manage, but by their both filling every spare moment, some of what needed to got done."One final try for a girl landed them Claude. Claude was precocious—he crawled, walked, and talked earlier than his brothers, but he also was tremendously creative. He liked to write, draw, play music, even bake. He was warm, friendly, and truly a special child. But as Claude approached his fifth birthday, he became obsessed with dresses. What he wanted more than anything was to be a princess, and be able to wear a dress to school.Rosie and Penn aren't sure what to do. Do they nurture their youngest son's wish, stares and cruel comments and jibes at their parenting be damned, or do they explain to Claude that boys don't wear dresses, and he is a boy? For a while Claude settles for dressing as a boy for school and changing into girl clothes when he returns home, but that really doesn't make him happy. He wants to be a girl."How did you teach your small human that it's what's inside that counts when the truth was everyone was pretty preoccupied with what you put on over the outside too?"As Claude grows, and becomes Poppy, they encourage her to be true to her feelings and who she is. But is that the right parenting choice for a child so young in age? What are the next steps in this journey, not only for Poppy and her parents, but her brothers as well? At some point the burden of keeping Poppy's secret becomes too much to bear for everyone, and then everyone needs to figure out where to go from there.What choice is the right one? How will Penn and Rosie know if they're acting in their child's best interests, or the best interests of all of their children? How do they protect their child from what they know the world always seems to have in store for people who are different?Laurie Frankel's This Is How It Always Is is a truly wonderful book. She draws you into the Walsh-Adams family so fully, that you really see how things affect each of them. The book isn't preachy or heavy-handed (although those who believe transgender people to be less than human, and that no matter what you always must remain the gender you're born into will probably not agree), but it also doesn't pretend the whole situation is perfect, for anyone. She emphasizes that it's just as easy to make mistakes by not doing or saying things as it is by doing or saying them.Frankel is a tremendously talented writer who imbues her books with beautiful emotion. Her previous book, Goodbye for Now (see my review), had me in tears (and I read it a few years before my father died). Frankel even brings emotion to her author's note. But this small exchange in the book moved me the most:"Tears crawled out of Claude's eyes and nose, and besides he was only five, but he tried to comfort his parents anyway. 'I just feel a little bit sad. Sad isn't bleeding. Sad is okay.'"Maybe sometimes things happened a little too easily, but I still loved this book. Read it.See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
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  • Karen
    February 4, 2017
    Rosie and Penn are living the dream. Rosie is an ER doc in a busy Washington hospital. Penn manages their sprawling farmhouse and works on his novel while their five beautiful boys are at school. Sounds like the beginning of an afterschool special. And it sort of is – or should be. Claude, their youngest, most precocious, brilliant little boy is starting kindergarten and wants to wear a dress to school. The parents; educated, open minded, and busy raising a bunch of noisy boys - try to be unders Rosie and Penn are living the dream. Rosie is an ER doc in a busy Washington hospital. Penn manages their sprawling farmhouse and works on his novel while their five beautiful boys are at school. Sounds like the beginning of an afterschool special. And it sort of is – or should be. Claude, their youngest, most precocious, brilliant little boy is starting kindergarten and wants to wear a dress to school. The parents; educated, open minded, and busy raising a bunch of noisy boys - try to be understanding. The dress idea backfires and Claude winds up with a purse as a lunchbox. Teachers and administrators “say” they understand. But do they, really? Very quickly the questions become less straightforward, more complicated and some are just downright unanswerable. Claude wants to wear a pink bikini, grow his hair and take ballet. He wants to be “she” and would like to change his name to Poppy. With a house full of bright, creative children where individuality has always been encouraged, the parents allow this and more. When not everyone in their small town follows suit and a nightmare case in the ER leaves Rosie visibly shaken, the family moves thousands of miles away to begin again. Seattle seems the perfect location. Sadly, Rosie and Penn learn that secrets can’t stay buried forever, and the consequences affect the entire family. Their love has no limits and this is a rollercoaster ride they need to see through to the very end. No amount of medical knowledge (Rosie’s) and googling (Penn’s) can protect the parents from the heartbreak of a child’s tears. As the old saying goes: A parent can only be as happy as their least happy child. I highly recommend this educational, emotional and beautifully written novel by bestselling author Laurie Frankel. Her surprising sense of humor and heartfelt characters will leave you thinking about them long after you turn the final page. This should be read, this should be discussed. readingandeating.com
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  • Sue1958
    February 3, 2017
    I must say that the complex message in the blurb is what first attracted my curiosity I had heard or seen nothing about the hype of this book until recently which is good for me, I could walk in open minded and away from distractions from the hype.The first half of the book was a struggle for me. There is a huge amount of narration and not much dialogue although at times even the dialogue was hard for me to follow at times to.I got it though. I got the gist of it all.This is a good modern times I must say that the complex message in the blurb is what first attracted my curiosity I had heard or seen nothing about the hype of this book until recently which is good for me, I could walk in open minded and away from distractions from the hype.The first half of the book was a struggle for me. There is a huge amount of narration and not much dialogue although at times even the dialogue was hard for me to follow at times to.I got it though. I got the gist of it all.This is a good modern times family that accept things, like they have accepted Claude their young son who needs to be Poppy.We learn from the start the complexity of her sons feelings at an early age.It's a powerful book with a message.There are some fun things that will make you smile.I've given it a 3 star simply because I really struggled reading this, not because of the subject matter, not because of the complexity, more from the readers POV in keeping with it.My thanks to Headline via Net Galley for my copy
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  • Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves
    February 3, 2017
    [4.5 stars]Headline:This Is How It Always Is is an accessible story about a weighty topic that had me feeling a whole range of emotions…it’s the kind of book many people will enjoy, yet will also provide excellent discussion for book clubs.What I Liked:- One of the most important things a book needs to do to really draw me in is to make me feel…something. It doesn’t have to be positive all the time, but I have to become emotionally involved with the story and characters in some way. This Is How [4.5 stars]Headline:This Is How It Always Is is an accessible story about a weighty topic that had me feeling a whole range of emotions…it’s the kind of book many people will enjoy, yet will also provide excellent discussion for book clubs.What I Liked:- One of the most important things a book needs to do to really draw me in is to make me feel…something. It doesn’t have to be positive all the time, but I have to become emotionally involved with the story and characters in some way. This Is How It Always Is had me feeling a full range of emotions. It’s heart-warming, but also heart-breaking. It’s unexpectedly funny, sad, inspirational, and made me angry at times.- While this story obviously centers around Claude and his struggle with gender dysphoria, it’s also very much a story about an unconventional and complicated family. Frankel explores the family dynamics, the impacts of Claude’s struggle on each sibling and both parents, and the more run-of-the-mill struggles of a family (work/life balance, teen angst, sibling disagreements, etc) and how Claude fits into that.- While gender dysphoria is a weighty issue and many people have not personally experienced, the Walsh-Adams family as a whole is incredibly relatable. Rosie (the mother) is someone I could imagine being friends with and the family’s reactions to and decision-making involving Claude felt decidedly normal to me.What I Didn’t Like:- I’m generally not a fan of stories within stories and one (a fairy tale, in this case) figures prominently into This Is How It Always Is. It makes sense within the larger context and Frankel executed it well, but I personally found it distracting and unnecessary. It felt a little too cutes-y to me.- I’m getting really nit-picky, but some of the things Claude was doing at age five (i.e. designing and constructing a complicated Halloween costume by himself) seemed like a developmental stretch to me, even though his character is quite precocious. I have a six year old son and he could no more design and construct his own Halloween costume than fly to the moon; however, he could name 25 obscure animals you’ve never heard of. So, maybe this criticism isn’t entirely fair.Visit my blog to read the full review:https://www.sarahsbookshelves.com/thi...
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 28, 2017
    What happens to a family unit when the unexpected occurs? The term "unexpected" can actually mean a good thing or a bad thing. Or something in between and, frankly, unclassifable. In Laurie Frankel's new novel, "This Is How It Always Is", the Walsh-Adams family of Madison, Wisconsin, is faced with the likelihood of their youngest-of-five-sons, Claude, is identifying more with girls, than boys. Claude's parents - emergency-room physician Rosie Walsh and author Penn Adams - and his four older brot What happens to a family unit when the unexpected occurs? The term "unexpected" can actually mean a good thing or a bad thing. Or something in between and, frankly, unclassifable. In Laurie Frankel's new novel, "This Is How It Always Is", the Walsh-Adams family of Madison, Wisconsin, is faced with the likelihood of their youngest-of-five-sons, Claude, is identifying more with girls, than boys. Claude's parents - emergency-room physician Rosie Walsh and author Penn Adams - and his four older brothers work through to a compromise that works for a year or two; "Claude" will become "Poppy" and identify as a little girl. As Claude has grown up in the community as a boy, the change to girl causes some eyebrow raising but, in general, works okay until the family is confronted by two cruel acts of bigotry. Their response, led by mother Rosie, is to up sticks and move to an area more liberal - and thus seen as more "accepting" - Seattle.The Walsh-Adams family, where four of the five sons have those achingly arch names that seem to connote liberal families, manage their lives with stories and hugs and hands-on parenting. The move to Seattle is fairly successful - Poppy makes close friends, though oldest son Roo is cast a bit adrift - and the family settles in. However, and this is a BIG "however", the very smart parents fail to decide what to say going forward about Poppy's gender-identification. They meet new neighbors and tell them the big family secret, but don't tell anyone else besides some people at school. The next five or so years, where Poppy blossoms as a little girl, are spent in a rather exhausting game of "we can't let people know". The other "however" they failed to fully consider is what to do as Poppy's body develops as the boy she is physically.Laurie Frankel's book is well-written and enjoyable. It'll make a good book-club selection as it asks a lot of good questions about society's view of transgender children (and adults). She also brings in how family members deal with their transgender child and brother/sister. The ending is a bit too pat, but is in line with the rest of the plot. It's an interesting read, and the subject is close to Frankel's heart, as you'll read in the afterword.
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  • Andrea
    January 24, 2017
    This is How it Always Is immediately grabbed me as a wonderful story about marriage and family. Yes, the plot is driven by the child with gender dysphoria, but each of the characters are imbued with such authentic detail that Penn, Rosie and their children ALL wormed their way into my heart. The minutiae of their family life felt so familiar and intimate: from the details like the names given for the kids rooms (the self proclaimed 'shark cave' or parent named POH for 'pit of hell'), to those te This is How it Always Is immediately grabbed me as a wonderful story about marriage and family. Yes, the plot is driven by the child with gender dysphoria, but each of the characters are imbued with such authentic detail that Penn, Rosie and their children ALL wormed their way into my heart. The minutiae of their family life felt so familiar and intimate: from the details like the names given for the kids rooms (the self proclaimed 'shark cave' or parent named POH for 'pit of hell'), to those terrifyingly familiar moments of parenting decisions."When was the last time something was bothering one of the kids or he was acting strange or he wasn't sleeping or doing well in math or sharing nicely during free-choice time, and we knew why?" "Knew why?" Rosie said. "Knew why. Absolutely knew what was wrong and what should be done to fix it and how to make that happen." "As a parent?" "As a parent." "Never?" "Never," Penn agreed. "Not ever. Not once. You never know. You only guess. This is how it always is. You have to make these huge decisions on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands, who trusts you to know what's good and right and then to be able to make that happen. You never have enough information. You don't get to see the future." DAMN. This novel is full of these sharp observations about life as a parent and how everything affects the family as a whole. At times it almost felt like an editorial, but with great breadth and depth of emotion: I laughed, I cried, I clutched my hand to my heart. And, of course, it's a fascinating portrait of a transgender child - written by a parent of a transgender child. As progressive as I am, I felt like I learned SO MUCH and gained even more perspective on this timely issue. It is not at all heavy handed, but we can all learn from someone so brave to share a part of her story. You can read more about Laurie in this Seattle Times article.http://www.seattletimes.com/entertain... It sparked great conversation at the dinner table with my husband and he directed me to this article he found enlightening from National Geographic, which is also worth a read. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/mag...Thank you NetGalley and Flatiron Publishing for an advance copy for my review. And, of course, to Laurie Frankel for sharing a version of your story, your truth - and hopefully changing the world.(For more reviews and bookish musings: http://www.bornandreadinchicago.com/)
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  • Mairead Hearne (swirlandthread.com)
    January 16, 2017
    ‘This is ClaudeHe’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter.He also loves wearing a dress, growing his hair long, and dreams of being a princess.’ This is How It Always Is is a novel by American writer Laurie Frankel. Published by Headline Review in February 2017, this is a novel that will rip at your heartstrings, so be prepared!!Please continue reading for my full thoughts…With very mixed emotions I write this review…There have been times, I am ashamed to admit ‘This is ClaudeHe’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter.He also loves wearing a dress, growing his hair long, and dreams of being a princess.’ This is How It Always Is is a novel by American writer Laurie Frankel. Published by Headline Review in February 2017, this is a novel that will rip at your heartstrings, so be prepared!!Please continue reading for my full thoughts…With very mixed emotions I write this review…There have been times, I am ashamed to admit, I have been quite dismissive of Gender Dysphoria. How prevalent is it really in our society? Is it a choice or is it just like any other illness that possibly can be cured? These and many more questions have run through my mind as I have tried to get my head around the true meaning of it.Wikipedia defines Gender Dysphoria as ‘(distress) a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. In these cases, the assigned sex and gender do not match the person’s gender identity, and the person is transgender.’What I will say, for me, is that all the definitions in the world really mean nothing.To truly start to understand Gender Dysphoria as a lay person, I recommend you read the following article from the New York Times, written by Laurie Frankel about her own child From He to She in First Grade ( https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/fa... )Then, I recommend you pick up a copy of This Is How It Always Is and get a glimpse, though fictional, of a much broader picture.‘When was the last time something was bothering one of the kids or he was acting strange or he wasn’t sleeping or doing well in math or sharing nicely during free choice time, and we knew why?Never. Not ever. Not once. You never know. You only guess. This is how it always is….It’s impossible. It’s heartbreaking. It’s maddening. But there’s no alternative.’What a wonderful snippet of conversation between parents, Rosie and Penn, as they try to come to terms with how to move forward with some very difficult decisions.Up to this point Penn and Rosie and all their boys have managed.Claude, their five-year-old boy, loves nothing better than dressing up as a fairy. As parents, Penn and Rosie have spoken in depth about how best to deal with this and, up to this point, they have let Claude wear what he wishes and when.Is it a phase? Will he grow out of it? Questions any parent would have.Yes, life has been complicated, but as a family they have all adapted well. But things are now changing. Claude is about start school and the foreseen difficulties of Claude dressing in girls clothes while attending school, has raised it’s inevitable head.The school are quite willing to adjust and comply with any decision taken by Penn, Rosie or Claude but it is the wider picture that causes them all concernWhat happens when kids start calling him names? Will Claude be bullied? Will he be treated differently to the other children? How will he adapt to this new world? Will his brothers be bullied by association?So begins a very emotional journey of joy and pain, of life-changing decisions and beautiful family moments.Laurie Frankel, in my eyes, is beyond brave to have written such a book. She has put her family in the spotlight in a way many of us could never truly imagine.Although, the characters in this book are fictional, I feel that we are, in part, witnessing many real-life experiences that Laurie Frankel and her family endured and no doubt will continue to endure for quite some time.This Is How It Always Is is an inspirational and captivating novel. It is a very unique and elegantly written story, every sentence, every word written with such care and such love.I’m getting goosebumps even as I write this and I sincerely wish Laurie Frankel and her family all the joy in the world.This Is How It Always Is is quite simply a novel that everyone should read. I’ll leave you with this quote ‘I just feel a little sad. Sad isn’t bleeding. Sad is okay’ ~ Claude Age 5
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  • Elaine
    January 9, 2017
    I won a copy of This Is How It Always Is from a Goodreads Giveaway.One of my goals for 2017 is to write a review for every book I read on Goodreads so I can keep track of all the good books (always far and few in between) and the bad ones (always more than I can keep track of) and remember why (XYZ sucked) and why (ABC did not). Not surprisingly, I generally remember why XYZ was so bad and ABCs are rare, not truffle rare but not easy to find, like an alligator in the sewer.Right now, my track re I won a copy of This Is How It Always Is from a Goodreads Giveaway.One of my goals for 2017 is to write a review for every book I read on Goodreads so I can keep track of all the good books (always far and few in between) and the bad ones (always more than I can keep track of) and remember why (XYZ sucked) and why (ABC did not). Not surprisingly, I generally remember why XYZ was so bad and ABCs are rare, not truffle rare but not easy to find, like an alligator in the sewer.Right now, my track record is not looking so good; the latter is winning but hey, its still early. Maybe I should have added "Optimism" to my 2017 Goals List as well.But I'm happy to say that finally, finally, in only the second week of the first month of the new year, I have a great review to write!Happy happy happy dance!!!A part of me went into This Is How It Always Is with a little trepidation because I watch the news and I'm not ignorant to the terrible obstacles and ignorance the LGBT community faces each day.But I was surprised (in a good way!) and that happens too rarely in my life. This Is How It Always Is is not just about a transgirl and how her identity impacts her family but its really about love. If that sounds corny, you can bite me.And its about all kinds of love.The love between a doctor/wife/mother and her writer/father/husband; the love and loyalty of a family for their daughter/sister, the love that comes from acceptance and understanding; the love of a culture and religion that just accepts you for who you are, not what you are; the love that comes from a weird, odd, quirky family that defies convention because let's face it, normal is overrated and there's no such thing, not in 2017, not now, not ever. We are all wonderful, weird and strange and our families are no different, no less troubled, no less special and crazy. I loved the Walsh-Adams brood, all the brothers and their laughable antics and funny idiosyncrasies; the loving parents, how refreshing to meet a couple who have chemistry and compatibility, I could feel their love for each other and the love they have for their ever growing family; and yes, I could empathize and understand their fears, struggles and angst. I wanted to be a part of their family, the loud and tightly knit Walsh-Adams, not conventional in any way and that's fine by me. I wanted them to adopt me, I wanted to listen to their random conversations and bask in their unconditional love and acceptance, not the acceptance that just is because they are your family and they have to accept you but the understanding that comes from not understanding what is happening to a beloved child, the gradual understanding that comes with life experience, listening not just to your own heart and soul but to others who can relate and impart invaluable advice, and to realize that sometimes it is wrong to shelter, to keep it in, to run away and hide because the problem will still be there. That you may not have all the answers but if you keep looking and do your best, it will get better.In the end, we all have to embrace who we are (or try our best to), to step into the light and take what life will throw back at us because in the end, as long as you have the love and support of your family and good friends, you truly can survive anything.This has been the most fun review to write (so far) and I certainly hope it won't be the last.
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  • Jackie Rogers
    December 2, 2016
    I loved, loved,loved this book. Is about a family of five boys of which one is a girl. Is a transgender book. This is a book of fiction written by an author with a transgender child. Do I understand this concept more than before reading? NO! But I walked in the shoes of this child and her parents and siblings. Is a story of wonder delight, misunderstanding, and hate. We as Gods kids are called to love, accept, and forgive. Is all we are calleed to and yet we set ourselves up as judge and jury of I loved, loved,loved this book. Is about a family of five boys of which one is a girl. Is a transgender book. This is a book of fiction written by an author with a transgender child. Do I understand this concept more than before reading? NO! But I walked in the shoes of this child and her parents and siblings. Is a story of wonder delight, misunderstanding, and hate. We as Gods kids are called to love, accept, and forgive. Is all we are calleed to and yet we set ourselves up as judge and jury of all we don't understand. We need to get over ourselves. Takes all sortsof folks to make this world go around and we miss the wonder of our Father's creation by thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Let go of what brings you to judge another and rejoice that you are also fearfully and wonderfully made. My thanks to Laurie Frankel for sharing this to the world. My thanks to Goodreads for the honor and privilege of reading. All should read this book.
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  • Dan Radovich
    October 21, 2016
    Did this novel change my mind? No. Did it sway me at all to consider changing my mind? No. That being said, Frankel has written a helluva good book. The Walsh-Adams family is filled with males; Father Penn and sons Roosevelt, Ben, Rigel and Orion (twins) and Claude. Mother Rosie is the lone female; until one day Claude decides he wants to grow up to be a girl - and wants to be named Poppy. On the first day of Kindergarten, due to a dead goldfish mishap, Claude/Poppy cannot attend wearing the per Did this novel change my mind? No. Did it sway me at all to consider changing my mind? No. That being said, Frankel has written a helluva good book. The Walsh-Adams family is filled with males; Father Penn and sons Roosevelt, Ben, Rigel and Orion (twins) and Claude. Mother Rosie is the lone female; until one day Claude decides he wants to grow up to be a girl - and wants to be named Poppy. On the first day of Kindergarten, due to a dead goldfish mishap, Claude/Poppy cannot attend wearing the perfectly pressed dress he wanted to; so a red patent leather handbag suffices as a lunch box. Let the fun begin. Frankel fills her story with plenty of humor to buffer the subject matter she deals with beautifully. Her characters are real people expressing real beliefs and feelings about transgender life, especially at such a young age. Life for everyone in the Walsh-Adams house is brought forth in quality prose. This is the first book of hers that I have read, and I do want to check out her early works. She has a message to tell, but is not preaching or beating you over the head with it and that is what makes the book so good. I did not feel as if I were being forced to change my opinions about the subject. Some may be educated by Frankel's work, I was entertained.
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  • Sharon
    June 14, 2016
    This story is so warm, funny, and engaging! I wish it had been just a shade less preachy - a little less overt in Messaging and used more space instead to explore the lives and development of the other children as a foil for what Claude/Poppy is going through. But on the whole I enjoyed this book tremendously and look forward to reading more from this author.
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