This Is How It Always Is
by Laurie Frankel

Overview -

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.  Read more...

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More About This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

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.


  • ISBN-13: 9781250088550
  • ISBN-10: 1250088550
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • Publish Date: January 2017
  • Page Count: 336
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Family Life
Books > Fiction > Literary

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-11-28
  • Reviewer: Staff

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 storyheartwarming and generous, yet written with a wry sensibility. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary Agency. (Jan.)

BookPage Reviews

Sharing your truth

BookPage Top Pick in Fiction, February 2017

After four sons, Dr. Rosie Walsh and her husband, writer Penn Adams, thought maybe—just maybe—their fifth child would be a girl, Poppy, named for Rosie’s deceased sister. But instead, the baby was another boy, Claude. Until he decided he wasn’t.

The revelation didn’t shake the Walsh-Adamses. Claude would be allowed to wear a dress. Claude would be allowed to change his name. Claude would become Poppy. Laurie Frankel’s third novel, This Is How It Always Is, doesn’t center on a family’s struggle about how to handle a child’s transition from a he to a she. It’s about everything that follows.

Rosie and Penn find peace in Poppy’s kindergarten class, but Rosie worries about Poppy’s future in their relatively sheltered Minnesota town. After much research, the family is off to Seattle, which they’re sure will be a more supportive environment for Poppy.

And it is. But they also have four other children to consider. Their new friends in Seattle know Poppy only as a girl, and over time, it becomes obvious that keeping the secret is taking a toll on the rest of the family.

This Is How It Always Is isn’t only a novel about the challenges of life with an atypical child. It’s a story about the challenges of parenting and love, period. Frankel draws from her own experience as the mother of a second-grade girl who was born male. In writing, she offers a piece of advice: “Secrets make everyone alone.” But she also believes that we find one another by telling our stories. This beautiful story is deeply personal, a heart-rending glimpse of an
author writing her way to understanding.


This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews