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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2018, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

Buy This Book

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 ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

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.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (573 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

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

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

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

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 ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Laurie Frankel

If you liked This Is How It Always Is, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...
  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.