Published by Flatiron Books on January 24th 2017
Challenge Theme: A book with a LGBTQ+ protagonist
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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.
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.
I really, really enjoyed this book and I fell in love with this family! Rosie is strong, Penn is a sweetheart, Ben is protective, Roo is complicated, the twins are silly, and Poppy is just so brave. This topic is one that is hard to address in today’s society and what makes it even more special is that Frankel herself has a transgender daughter. If you read the acknowledgements she talks about how this book is completely fiction and isn’t her or her daughter’s story but I am sure she has experienced many of the things in this book. She is more qualified that most people to write this book.
Like any great book it made me feel a plethora of emotions. The way some people treated Poppy angered me to my core but the way her family rallied around her made my heart burst with joy. For any person who knows that they were born in the wrong body it takes so much bravery to realize that and live their authentic lives. For the families who support them it also takes bravery to try and do what is right for their child, especially when it is realized at such a young age that they aren’t who they were born as. There are so many decisions to be made and the fear that you won’t make the correct ones must be so scary. As a society we need to really start to change how we look at transgenderism and learn to help people instead of shame them. It is so sad that we can’t just accept people the way they are. I highly recommend this book. Hopefully it will make people open their eyes to these issues and also give a wonderful story to read.
The reason it didn’t get a full 5 stars is because towards the end of the story it started to get a little long winded. I could have done without a lot of the parts in Thailand. I did very much enjoy the ending though!
“You can’t tell people what to be, I’m afraid,” said Rosie. “You can only love and support who they already are.”
“This is how it always is. You have to make these huge decision 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 – 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.”
“For my child, for all our children, I want more options, more paths through the woods, wider ranges of normal, and unconditional love.”
“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.”
“Such a tough life. This is not the easy way.”
“No,” Penn agreed, “but I’m not sure easy is what I want for the kids anyway.”
She looked up at him. “Why the hell not?”
“I mean, if we could have everything, sure. If we can have it all, yeah. I wish them easy, successful, fun-filled lives, crowned with good friends, attentive lovers, heaps of money, intellectual stimulation, and good views out the window. I wish them eternal beauty, international travel, and smart things to watch on tv. But if I can’t have everything, if I only get a few, I’m not sure easy makes my wish list.”
“Easy is nice. But its 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.”