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This Is How It Always Is
Cover of This Is How It Always Is
This Is How It Always Is
A Novel

New York Times Bestseller
The Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"Every once in a while, I read a book that opens my eyes in a way I never expected." —Reese Witherspoon (Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)


People Magazine's Top 10 Books of 2017
Amazon's Best Books of 2017: Top 20
Amazon's Best Literature and Fiction of 2017
Bustle's 17 Books Every Woman Should Read From 2017
PopSugar's Our Favorite Books of the Year (So Far)
Refinery29's Best Books of the Year So Far
BookBrowse's The 20 Best Books of 2017
Pacific Northwest Book Awards Finalist
The Globe and Mail's Top 100 Books of 2017
Longlisted for 2019 International DUBLIN Literary Award

"It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think." —Liane Moriarty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

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.

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.

New York Times Bestseller
The Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"Every once in a while, I read a book that opens my eyes in a way I never expected." —Reese Witherspoon (Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)


People Magazine's Top 10 Books of 2017
Amazon's Best Books of 2017: Top 20
Amazon's Best Literature and Fiction of 2017
Bustle's 17 Books Every Woman Should Read From 2017
PopSugar's Our Favorite Books of the Year (So Far)
Refinery29's Best Books of the Year So Far
BookBrowse's The 20 Best Books of 2017
Pacific Northwest Book Awards Finalist
The Globe and Mail's Top 100 Books of 2017
Longlisted for 2019 International DUBLIN Literary Award

"It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think." —Liane Moriarty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • LAURIE FRANKEL is the author of three novels: This Is How It Always Is, The Atlas of Love, and Goodbye for Now. She lives in Seattle with her family.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 28, 2016
    Frankel's third novel is about the large, rambunctious
    Walsh-Adams family. While Penn writes his "DN" (damn novel) and spins fractured fairy tales from the family's ramshackle
    farmhouse in Madison, Wis., Rosie works as an emergency physician. Four sons have made the happily married couple exhausted and wanting a daughter; alas, their fifth is another boy. Extraordinarily verbal little Claude is quirky and clever, traits that run in the family, and at age three says, "I want to be a girl." Claude is the focus, but Frankel captures the older brothers' boyish grossness. She also fleshes out his two eldest brothers, who worry about Claude's safety when Rosie and Penn agree that Claude can be Poppy at school. But coming out further isolates this unique child. Encouragement from a therapist and an accepting grandma can go just so far; Poppy only blossoms after the Walsh-Adamses move to progressive Seattle and keep her trans status private, although what is good for Poppy is increasingly difficult on her brothers. The story takes a darker turn when she is outed; Rosie and her youngest must find their footing while Penn stays at home
    with the other kids. Frankel's (The Atlas of Love) slightly askew voice, exemplified by Rosie and Penn's nontraditional gender roles, keeps the narrative sharp and surprising. This is a
    wonderfully contradictory story—heartwarming and generous, yet written with a wry sensibility. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from October 1, 2016
    A big, brave, messy modern family struggles with the challenges of raising a transgender child. 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 whats good and right and then to be able to make it happen. Ifyou make the wrong call, well, nothing less than your childs entire future and happiness is at stake. Claude Walsh-Adams is all of 3 years old when he announces what he wants to be when he grows upa girl. Its a particularly tricky case of be careful what you wish for for his doctor mom and novelist dad, already the parents of four boys when they roll the reproductive dice one last time. At home, barrettes and dresses are fine, but once he starts kindergarten as a boy, Claude becomes so miserable that, with the advice of a multi-degree-social-working-therapist-magician, his parents decide to let him become Poppy. So, gender dysphoria, says the bizarrely bouncy therapist. Congratulations to you both! Mazel tov! How exciting! The excitement takes a nasty turn when horrifying homophobic incidents convince Rosie that the family must leave Madison, Wisconsin, for the reputedly more enlightened Seattle, Washington. But rather than putting Seattles tolerance to the test, they keep Poppys identity a secret from even her closest friends, a decision that blows up in their faces when she hits puberty. Though well-plotted, well-researched, and unflaggingly interesting, the novel is cloying at times, with arch formulations, preachy pronouncements, and a running metafictional fairy tale. Its worth putting up with the occasional too-much-ism for all the rest of what bright, brave author Frankel (Goodbye for Now, 2012) has to offer as the mother of a transgender second-grader in real life. As thought-provoking a domestic novel as we have seen this year.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2017

    Rosie is a busy ER doctor; her husband, Penn, is a writer and stay-at-home father to their four sons. They welcome a fifth son to their boisterous family, and when Claude is three, he starts to wear dresses and says he wants to be a girl. Although his parents and older brothers unconditionally love and support the little one, now called Poppy, troubles arise in the wider world, even in their famously liberal hometown of Madison, WI, and later in Seattle, where they move when Poppy is ten. Then Rosie takes the unhappy and troubled child with her when she volunteers for a stint at a desperately poor clinic in the jungles of Thailand, which turns out to be a life-changing experience for them. In a letter to her readers, Frankel (The Atlas of Love; Goodbye for Now) explains that her own second-grader, born male, now identifies as a girl, so she writes her fictional story with some personal experience. VERDICT This novel offers a timely and thoughtful look at the life of a transgender child. It is also a touching and sympathetic account that is brimming with life and hard to put down.--Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2017

    When Claude, who has always resisted stereotypical male behaviors, wants to wear dresses to kindergarten, Rosie and Penn help their young child deal with classmates, parents, teachers, and administrators who don't understand why Claude, who now identifies as female, wants to be called Poppy. After an incident with another parent almost turns violent, the family of seven pick up and move from Madison, WI, to Seattle. Poppy's history remains a secret-until she's in fifth grade. Penn, an aspiring writer and stay-at-home dad, also experiences a journey of self-discovery as he develops his talent for storytelling. Though the third-person perspective revolves mostly around the parents, it will still resonate with teens. Many readers will identify with Poppy, while others will gain fresh perspective on gender identity. VERDICT This thought-provoking, accessible work would make an excellent parent/teen book club choice.-Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Laurie Frankel
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