Review This Is How It Always Is: A Novel by Laurie Frankel, #1 Best Sellerin LGBT Family Life Fiction, People Magazine’s Top 10 Books of 2017

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

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.





Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of January 2017: In recent years we’ve seen an increasing number of memoirs from transgender individuals and from parents forging uncharted waters in order to help their transgender children live happy, healthy lives in a society that still largely defines gender by what’s in your pants. In her novel This is How It Always Is Laurie Frankel takes those real-life experiences and puts them into a big-hearted story of family and secrets. Penn and Rosie are a close, loving couple, living in Madison, Wisconsin with their five boys. But it becomes evident before long that their youngest, Claude, feels like he should have been born a girl. So how do these strong, supportive parents go about helping their son live as the person he wants to be? It’s a fascinating thing to behold. The nuances and unforeseen pitfalls of trying to protect your child from fear and hate while nurturing a sense of acceptance is daunting. What is private and what is a secret, and what is, really, nobody’s business? Sometimes secrets have a way of materializing in the blink of an eye or the span of an innocuous question, and this novel is about the lengths we will go, as parents and siblings, to protect each other. And how we react when our secrets are exposed. This is How It Always Is in an incredible read that speaks to the heart of what it means to love and be loved by family. –Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review


“One of the most timely and big-hearted family stories I have read in a long time…This is a beautiful novel about the unexpected curve balls of parent and sibling relationships, and the limitless boundaries of family love.”

“Sharp and surprising. This is a wonderfully contradictory story―heartwarming and generous, yet written with a wry sensibility.”
Publishers Weekly (“Pick of the Week,” starred review)

“Well-plotted, well-researched, and unflaggingly interesting…As thought-provoking a domestic novel as we have seen this year.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“I was lucky enough to receive an advance reading copy of this very special book about a family with a secret. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think. Preorder your copy now.”
―Liane Moriarty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Truly Madly Guilty

“Laurie Frankel writes with more heart than anyone I can think of…With emotional acuity, admirable bravery, utter compassion, and complete understanding, she’s created a family attempting to forge a path through one of life’s most mystifying challenges: how to define what it is that makes your child who he or she is: unique, beloved, and whole. This is a novel everyone should read. It’s brilliant. It’s bold. And it’s time.”
―Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Banquet of Consequences

“In This is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel spins a beguiling tale of a sprawling, loving, ever-changing, unconventional, and yet completely typical modern family as they make their way though a world with no easy answers and no magic solutions. How does Frankel pull off such a story? With great humor and candor. With a powerful narrative voice, and a forthrightness so compelling, we are drawn into the family circle to laugh and cry with them, and to ponder issues great and small. An intimate, wonderfully moving novel that is especially relevant in today’s world.”
―Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of A Sudden Light and The Art of Racing in the Rain

“This is a perfect book club book, a book that should be read in schools, and one of my favorite reads of the year. A challenging subject handled with honesty, grace, humor, dignity, and most of all, love.”
―Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“A lively and fascinating story of a thoroughly modern family and the giant, multifaceted love that binds them. This Is How It Always Is sparkles with wit and wisdom.”
―Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette 

“Laurie Frankel has written one of those very rare, special novels that examines the way we live―in our homes, in our families, in our bodies―with an astonishing balance of humor, complexity, and above all, kindness. This Is How It Always Is teaches us to look beyond the traditional binary oppositions of boy vs. girl, right vs. wrong, real vs. make-believe, and to find courage and beauty in the in-between.”
―Ruth Ozeki, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being


Top customer reviews

Melissa Leatherwood
This book is powerful, heartbreaking, beautiful, timely, and critically important. I am so grateful it was recommended to me. I’m not going to recap the story; that’s what dust jackets and publisher’s descriptions are for … or reading the actual book is an option. I cannot understand why so many reviews on here are merely book reports intent on summarizing the entire novel (for what reason I cannot imagine). Anyway, what I will tell you is that for the first time in my life, I wept openly on the pages of a book…over and over again. My heart hurt and it rejoiced. It felt trapped and it soared…along with Rosie and Penn and their brood of spunky kids. These are people I want in my life…overflowing with patience, kindness, and unconditional love. The author’s note mentions the book may be controversial; I couldn’t even begin to care. I choose to embrace the message, love the story and all the love it shares, and be a part of the solution, rather than the problem. There needn’t be any controversy in doing what’s best for your child. This is easily one of my top five most impactful books, and it’s hard to imagine that anything will take its place. As a bonus, this author is extremely talented. The writing is quick, meaningful, sharp and so touching. Very well done.

Parenting is hard. Really hard. Everyone always tells you that before you have kids but until you actually do it – you have no clue.

And…..the hardness starts when you are pregnant.

It is all about am I doing the right thing, should I do this or that, or not this or that, will it be healthy, what products will we use, to nurse or formula, cloth or disposable, find a pediatrician and it goes on and on.

But, then this little human arrives and all of the joy and the worries and the challenges along with it.

The struggle of being good enough is overwhelming.

In This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel takes all of these desires and self-doubt to an entirely new level. We want our kids to be ‘who they are’ and to be comfortable with themselves and to love who they are but, as a parent, what do you do when that sense of self goes against the norm, in a major way?

As a mother of three, 2 girls and a boy, I have seen my kids struggle with social acceptance, deal with less than true friendships, and want to fit in. We’ve had many talks about what a good friend is, how we treat others especially when they are different and how we try to do what is right all the time. It can be challenging and heart breaking. Many of these lessons have to be learned and learned the hard way. We have to watch our kids struggle, fall down, encourage them to get back up and brush themselves off and try again.

But, what happens when your child, who you are teaching to be true to themselves, is really, really different? Outside “the norm”?

We follow along as the parents in this story walk this oh so fine line. I found my heart breaking, my stomach feeling like it had dropped to my ankles and face smiling as I read through these choices and their consequences.

The advice I was given prior to reading this book was to not read the flap, just dive in. And I did. What great advice! This book should be read without any preconceived notions or assumptions. Just read, open your mind and follow along. I would bet any amount of money that when you get to the end you will think, is that what I would have done?

Amy Gustafson
I liked this book because it dealt with a complicated issue in a lovely, relatable way. Parenting is hard and this book captured that.


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