Summary and book reviews of This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is

by Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel X
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2018, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

When Rosie and Penn and their four boys welcome the newest member of their family, no one is surprised it's another baby boy. At least their large, loving, chaotic family knows what to expect.

But Claude is not like his brothers. One day he puts on a dress and refuses to take it off. He wants to bring a purse to kindergarten. He wants hair long enough to sit on. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn aren't panicked at first. Kids go through phases, after all, and make-believe is fun. But soon the entire family is keeping Claude's secret. Until one day it explodes.

Laurie Frankel's 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.

Excerpt
This Is How It Always Is

Once Upon a Time, Claude Was Born


But first, Roo was born. Roosevelt Walsh-Adams. They had decided to hyphenate because—and in spite—of all the usual reasons but mostly so their firstborn could have his grandfather's name without sounding too presidential, which seemed to his parents like a lot of pressure for a six-pound, two-ounce, brand-new tiny human. First Roo was born, all pink and sticky and loud and miraculous. Then Ben was born. Then they debated and deliberated and decided just one more and therefore got twins—Rigel and Orion—who were no doubt going to voice hostility about their names when they became older than four, especially when Rigel found out he was named after the constellation's toe, but who for the moment were too little and too loud to care. The leap from two to four felt astronomical, so their parents had turned to the heavens.

All of which was why, despite being a woman of considerable science, a ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How do the epigraphs help prepare the reader for the many crossroads the Walsh- Adams family will have to face? What about the first word of the novel, "but"?
  2. When Rosie and Penn first go to see Mr. Tongo about Claude, he asks them to divide behaviors into "boy" and "girl" columns. Do you think their conclusions are accurate? Are they fair? Discuss what you think it means to be a man, a woman, or "something else."
  3. In what ways does the book tackle typical definitions of boys and girls, men and women? Did it change your view of gender and identity as you read?
  4. When Rosie first takes Poppy on playdates with other girls, the moms begin telling her how brave she is. "Rosie appreciated the support but wasn't sure ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Certainly this is an issue-driven novel. The author, Laurie Frankel, is the parent of a transgender child. As her fictional creation Rosie makes clear, "this is a medical issue, but mostly it's a cultural issue. It's a social issue and an emotional issue and a family dynamic issue and a community issue." For all the sensitive and difficult nature of the subject, Frankel has written a novel that is above all endearing and at times witty...continued

Full Review (573 words).

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(Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A moving portrait of a girl struggling to rebound after everything she's known has been thrown into disarray.

Booklist
Starred Review. LaCour paints a captivating depiction of loss, bewilderment, and emotional paralysis ... raw and beautiful.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. Beautifully crafted ... A quietly moving, potent novel.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. An elegantly crafted paean to the cleansing power of truth.

Reader Reviews

Amy

This is How It Always Is.
I felt emotional throughout this entire book. I am pleased that Reese’s Book club chose this novel. It was a beautifully written, heartbreaking yet inspiring account of having a trans child. Luckily in my state, in the recent mid term election, the ...   Read More
Linda Zagon

Family Love
WOW!! Kudos to Laurie Frankel, author or "This is How it Always Is". The genre of this book is Fiction, but in the author's notes she courageously writes that the motivation comes from her living with a family member with the same issues....   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Bathroom Bills

The joys and perils of raising a transgender child are beautifully brought to life in Laurie Frankel's This is How it Always Is. The question of where Poppy should go the bathroom when at school is a sensitive issue.

In the United States, since 2013, more than 24 state legislatures have proposed so-called "Bathroom Bills" with the express aim of restricting access to public bathrooms and locker rooms on the basis of the sex assigned to each individual at birth. As of January 2017 only one state, North Carolina, has passed such legislation into law. Public reaction was vocal and distaste for the new ruling brought about boycotts: the National Basketball Association and the NCAA moved sporting events out of the state. But despite ...

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