This Is How It Always Is

This Is How It Always Is

Book - 2017
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"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. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Flatiron Books, 2017
Edition: First Edition
ISBN: 9781250088550
Branch Call Number: FRANKEL
Characteristics: 327 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

Another Reese Witherspoon book club pick.

ArapahoeAnnaL May 26, 2018

Well written and engaging, this novel provides much pleasure and also food for thought. The teenage boys are funny and charming; the parents conscientious yet light hearted. Frankel does a beautiful job of bringing the reader into the world of a family seeking the happiest life for their transg... Read More »

October's pick

ArapahoeLesley Mar 22, 2018

This family portrait about a large family and their struggles and adjustments when young Claude wants to be Poppy, was beautifully written. The characters were lovely, the dialogue was funny and it was an overall uplifting read. Very well read by Gabra Zackman.

ArapahoeAlyson Oct 24, 2017

I loved this book! Timely, nuanced characters, interesting domestic ficiton...
This would make a great book club choice and a good choice for anyone wanting to learn more about the experiences of a transgender person.

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Jul 12, 2019

I wasn't sure what this book was about when I picked it up, but it was fantastic. I loved the story and the characters and I highly recommend it.

May 28, 2019

May WPL Book Club Selection - I loved the way part 1 was written, the way Penn and the children sat together every night for story time, but was on the fence about the move....then the secrets...(I know a family with secrets.....)...the language in Thailand was frustrating to read, but I understand why mom and her child went there....a controversial subject for sure. Not sure what I would do if this was my child, but overall a good book and I loved the family.

May 18, 2019


mazinwhistler May 13, 2019

I love books that evoke emotions and this one certainly did. The topic at hand, transgender, is a hot one at the moment. This was a great read as it brought this topic to light in a wonderful way. We are after all just people not matter our gender, social class, religion, sexual choices and so forth. Celebration our individuality is to key to a world that is safe for us all.

Apr 03, 2019

Penn and Rosie are Wisconsin parents of five boys. When the youngest, a preschooler named Claude, begins to gravitate toward dresses as his preferred clothing and expresses a desire to become a girl instead of a boy, his parents are nothing if not supportive. Though Rosie and Penn are progressive thinkers and try to do everything right, their reach can extend only so far outside their home, and it's unclear if the community is ready for Claude's evolution into "Poppy."

I enjoyed this book, and I'm strongly considering it as a senior book club selection. The extent to which the family's lives are upended, both figuratively and physically, around something as ultimately inconsequential as gender is unsettling. Rosie and Penn's marriage and some of the domestic scenes seemed a bit too perfect at times, but it wasn't difficult to look past that. Recommended.

Mar 06, 2019

book group?

Feb 05, 2019

Amazing novel written to sensitively describe how a family addresses the secret held by their 4th son. If you asked him as a toddler what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would respond "a girl". How the brothers, parents, friends and community manage their feelings and interactions with Claude/Poppy is with understanding, questions, fear, emotions and also love. An excellent read that makes you fall for the family, feel their love for their son/daughter, and also see the challenges Poppy and family will have to address as Poppy makes her decisions as she matures. Laurie Frankel provides an open opportunity to see inside their world.

DPL_Graham Jan 18, 2019

Rosie desperately wants a girl. She’s wanted one ever since she played make believe with her sister who tragically died when she was young. Rosie longs to name a child “Poppy” after her sister. In a house overrun by four young boys and a stay at home writer dad, Rosie needs some female companionship.

With the birth of their fifth child, Rosie’s dreams slowly come true, but in a way none of them expected. Indeed, Claude comes out with male genitalia and the dream of having a girl is crushed. That is, until Claude starts to wear dresses around the house and insist on going by Poppy. While the family is supportive of what they at first think of as a phase, the rest of the world isn’t so kind.

Yes, the story is entertaining if not a little deus ex machina in end, but the real value comes from the great husband and wife dialog and the uncomfortable and all too real situations they find themselves in. The novel makes you consider the intricacies of having a possibly-possibly not male to female small child with gender dysphoria. Would you tell other parents? What about their friends? What would the school says? Who would you allow to play with your child? Is protection and complete shielding from the harshness of life and outside reality a good idea? All these thoughts and more rolled around in my head as I read.

I only have one friend who is trans but I know the length that outsiders go to cause him pain. In restaurants, walking in public, and just living his life in general he is accosted with angry rants and people out to cause him pain for no reason other than his existing in their presence. The rate of violence against those who are trans and the rate of suicide for that same group is exponentially higher than other groups. This is an important book whether you want children or not that provides empathy and understanding of serious and complex issues that you may never face.

Jan 11, 2019

Such a beautiful, touching, funny, interesting story!

Dec 27, 2018

This book opened my eyes and heart to the smallest and mightiest details that one may encounter in this world, in a family, in a school, in a slumber party, in our bodies, when we are born into a body that isn't who we are. It addresses big issues in an honest and humorous way about what we keep private, how we hold secrets and what is nobody's business but our own.
The writing is smart and even though the author says it is a controversial subject it is in my opinion what most parents ultimately want for their children. It is in fact what most of us want for ourselves and the children we were, not to be judged, to be accepted for who we are. Life is hard enough and this story can shine a light on being part of the solution rather than adding to the problem of acceptance and dignity.
An excellent choice for a book group discussion.

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Apr 14, 2019

From the author's note:
"I wish for my child, for all our children, a world where they can be who they are and become their most loved, blessed, appreciated selves. I've rewritten that sentence a dozen times, and it never gets less cheesy, I suppose because that's the answer to my question. That's what's true. For my child, for all our children, I want more options, more paths through the woods, wider ranges of normal, and unconditional love. Who doesn't want that? I know this book will be controversial, but honestly? I keep forgetting why.

Apr 14, 2019

Penn agree. "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. And if you screw up, if with your incomplete, contradictory information you make the wrong call, well, nothing less than your child's entire future and happiness is at stake. It's impossible. It's heartbreaking. It's maddening. But there's no alternative."

Apr 14, 2019

"Easy is nice, but it's not as good as getting to be who you are or stand up for what you believe in," said Penn. "Easy is nice, but I wonder how often it leads to fulfilling work or partnership or being." "easy probably rules out having children," Rosie admitted. "Having children, helping people, making art, inventing anything, leading the way, tackling the world's problems, overcoming your own. I don't know. Not much of what I value in our lives is easy. But there's not much of it I'd trade for easy either, I don't think." "But it's terrifying," she whispered. "If it were the right thing to do, wouldn't we know it?" "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,"


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