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This is How It Always Is

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  71,858 ratings  ·  8,179 reviews
Alternate cover edition of ASIN B01HW6Z3FG

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 love
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Flatiron Books (first published January 4th 2017)
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Rhonda Banford I think it was written exactly as Rosie and Penn thought things in their heads. They are complex characters with non-linear ways of thinking--other…moreI think it was written exactly as Rosie and Penn thought things in their heads. They are complex characters with non-linear ways of thinking--other related thoughts intruding upon their initial thoughts and needing to be expressed, and multi-descriptors to flesh out the nuances of their thinking. Notice that the children's language is much simpler, as children's language is apt to be. I loved the long, involved sentences--even if I had to go back and re-read them a time or two.(less)
Jacqui Anne The Damn Novel, I listened to the audio book and it seemed easier to catch in this format

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  71,858 ratings  ·  8,179 reviews

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Emily May
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, 2017
“Well. Usually boys don’t wear dresses to preschool,” Rosie admitted carefully. “Or tights.”
“I’m not usually,” said Claude. This, Rosie reflected, even at the time, was true.

I've been going back and forth on whether I wanted to read this for a while. On the one hand, the premise interested me, the critics' reviews have been gushing, and the average GR rating is impressive. On the other hand, the few negative reviews have been calling it words like "sentimental", and even Kirkus begrudgingly admitte
Larry H
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm about 4.5, maybe 4.75 stars.

Penn and Rosie fell in love almost instantaneously. Penn was a writer forever working on his "damned novel," while Rosie worked as an emergency room doctor forever on the night shift. When they decided to have children, especially as their family grew to four boys, they adopted a tandem approach to parenting—"It was just that there was way more to do than two could manage, but by their both filling every spare moment, some of what needed to got done."<
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
FLOAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Because this has been selected as"REESE'S BOOK CLUB" pick for October, 2018. I'm pretty sure Reese chooses her books by reading my blog because I seem to always read them first (j/k). Anyway, many congrats to Laurie Frankel and her ever-so-lovely novel. This must be like the book version of winning the lottery.

Find all of my reviews at:

Dear Book:

Also, be forewarned I highlighted pretty much the entire thing.

I usually am a person who opts not to read a synop
Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, dl, 2017, fiction
I'm really conflicted on the rating for THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS because on the one hand it's great that this book has so many positives & doesn't end on a pessimistic tone; we need LGBTQIAP+ stories that don't end in tragedy. (We need more of these books in general.) On the other hand, at times, there were such unrealistic situations taking place that I was wondering if the author was living in fantasyland- you'd have to suspend disbelief to enjoy it. It's clear that this is a personal stor ...more
BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)
This is How It Always Is was emotional, touching and at times a bit saccharine but I loved every page!

This is a story of love, family and acceptance. It is also the story of young Claude who has gender dysphoria. Claude is the youngest of Rosie & Penn's five children and the result of their final attempt at having a daughter after 4 boys. Claude was a special child and a perfect addition to the family. He walked and talked at 9 months and was baking 3-tier cakes and writing and illustr
Justin Tate
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel I've read that explores raising a transgendered child (note: "transgendered" may not be exactly the right word). About 6 years ago I did read Raising My Rainbow by blogger extraordinaire Lori Duron. Having that background knowledge helped me appreciate this book even more, especially in the ways that Frankel focused on unexpected challenges in the family. While they devote so much energy into supporting their son's need to be a girl, they must also navigate the needs of having f ...more
Skyler Autumn
3 Stars

This is How It Always Is, is a book I don't usually gravitate towards call me a chicken but when I read a blurb about a transgender child coming into their own I right away go to all the negative and horrible people that child will have to endure in their adolescents. Then I start thinking how societies the worst, the obstacles the little kid is going to have to face so early on in life, and then Im weeping in the middle of Indigo all because I read the back blurb of this book. But
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I finished this is because I think the topic of discussion is important and I wanted to give it my attention.

This book is a character study, and not just of Claude/Poppy, but the entire family. I made no real connections with any of them individually, but did feel the love amongst them as a whole. Character studies are just not my thing. I don't enjoy it. I don't want to study fictional characters this closely.

The writing style was horrid and I hated it.
There was so much unnecessary
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
Happy New Year!

A gorgeous eye catching book cover....
A story with a lot of heart...
Kept me reading into the New Year early morning hours. I enjoyed this novel very much - but it’s not without flaws.

The ‘very-VERY’ beginning ....”Once Upon a Time Claude Was Born”, I felt the writing was ‘too busy’- ‘too wordy’...
But then....
It got FUNNY...really hysterical: We get a glimpse of Rosie and Penn’s dating life,(inspiring dating life...I was impressed), sex life, work schedule
j e w e l s
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This is the October pick for the RW book club. If you look at the books Reese Witherspoon has selected this year since she started her book club, you can almost see her mentally ticking off the subjects/genres she intends to publicize so the world can become a more enlightened place. Hooray for Reese!

This touching story checks off Reese's LGBTQ box. The author was inspired by her own son who decided one day to wear a dress to a party and then every day afterwards. The book fe
How does a loving family reintroduce their youngest son as their youngest daughter? It's not like genitalia naturally comes up in conversations very often. When does respect for medical privacy become protecting a secret? When does the needs of one child out weigh the desires of your other children?

I am always drawn to character study novels, and this one is no exception. But what is exceptional is how well this book tackles gender-diversity without being too preachy or saccharine (though
Lucy Langford

Heartfelt and magical. A fascinating story of a modern family. It explored themes of protecting a child from harm, questioning what is right for the child and acceptance... both self-acceptance and acceptance in a community.
This family was supportive of one another and this was an uplifting, enlightening read.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This book takes on the subject of transgender children, a subject the author knows of personally, as one of her children is transgender. But really, there are lessons here for everyone about unconditional love and acceptance of anyone who is different.

Penn and Rosie have 5 boys. Claude is the youngest and at a young age it becomes clear he feels he should have been born a girl. The title refers to the struggle all parents face: "This is how it always is. You have to make these huge d
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 very enthusiastic stars!

Oh, this book! Author Laurie Frankel manages to somehow beautifully capture the quirks and silliness and love that is part of being family. Each of the five children in this book had such unique personalities, and at times their antics came close (but never quite crossed the line) to being too outrageous. Every single vignette pulled me in and made me want to know this family (albeit perhaps from afar -- they seem a bit noisy).

The main story for this
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Rosie and Penn are parents of five boys in Madison, Wisconsin. From a young age it was clear that their youngest son Claude was different from the other boys in the family. At three years old, when asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, he replied “a girl”. During the next few years his family observes him wearing dresses and barrettes in his hair.

Acting in the best interests of their child, Rosie and Penn are supportive of Claude’s feelings. He begins to transform into a girl
From the blurb:
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.<
“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 - nothing less than your child's entire future and happiness is
Sue Dix
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't want to give any hints as to what this book is about. Don't read about it first, don't read the blurb on the dust jacket. Don't read a recap. Just read it, as I was told to do. You won't regret it.
Instead of writing a review I'll just link you to my book talk where I gush over this book for 14 minutes straight:

And also I agree with everything Emily May said in her review.
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“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 did not know this book or this author before my friend recommended we do a BR of this book in his birthday month, my friend also does not know anything about the author or book, he just decided that we should jump in and that’s what we did. He DNFed it and I am disappointed!

★ I had mixed feelings toward the
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Maybe just a little too preachy, and a little too neat. I suspect that: 1. a vast majority of transgender children do not have such understanding and accommodating parents and siblings, 2. most families with transgender children can not afford to move a few states away to a neighborhood of their choice in the hopes of escaping discrimination, and 3. it is not nearly as simple for even a young child to "pass" as a different gender in a new school system for several years without being discovered ...more
lucky little cat
Speaking as the mom of a mildly autistic child, I'm recommending this book as a valuable emotional resource for any parent of a child with differences from the norm. (Whatever the heck "norm" is.)

I am not a perfect parent. I yell, I swear, and worst of all, I have to blink and think twice before defending my child from random blatant unfairnesses the world visits upon her. I hate that I hesitate.

For example, when a teacher assigned my daughter Tater a failing grade for not eating in class as a component o
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: from-library
Note: People who have read my book reviews either here or on my blog will note that this review is a departure from how I generally review books. I feel this is necessary because of my strong reaction to this book.

I wish I hadn't read the Author's Note letting me know how deeply personal this story was to Frankel because she has a transgender child, as it makes me hesitant to write a thoroughly honest review (as if she's ever going to read this!).

Let me first emphatically
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mmd, people-mag-rec, 2019
This book is one that I want to press into people's hands.

Finally picked it up for a bookclub, and so glad I did. This is a book that inspires conversations and makes you really think about a topic and situation. How would your family handle this? How would you approach some of these questions? I think the point Frankel is making is that it is so unique, sometimes the answer isn't clear.

Rosie and Penn have a love story for the ages. Rosie is a Doctor working long nights i
Danielle ❤️ Pretty Mess Reading ❤️
*****4.5 STARS*****

Have you ever read a book that changes your outlook on life? Well, I have a time or two.

More importantly for this review, This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel, changed a piece of me that I never knew needed growth.

I’m not going to go into details or specifics of this book, but I will tell you how it affected me. Often times great books don’t need their details displayed. Instead they need your emotions to bleed into life.

I learned tha
Mary Ruthless
I enjoyed this book but definitely had some issues with the narrative.

This novel is about a family. Not just any family though, but the absolutely fairy-tale perfect family. Penn and Rosie meet in college and it's basically love at first sight. Even before first sight because they both had weird feelings before their first date. *heavy eye roll*

Penn is studying to be a writer and Rosie is studying to become a doctor. Her schedule keeps her from really being able to date so she breaks things of
Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
I jumped on the bandwagon for Reece Witherspoon’s book club pick this month. With its controversial and fascinating storyline I couldn’t resist! I listened to the audio version.

When Rosie and Penn have their fifth son, It seemed like that was it for Rosie’s dream of a daughter. But as Claude starts to grow, the whole family begin to realise that there is something different about their youngest son and brother. At first they assume Claude acting like a girl and wearing dresses is jus
Feb 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book, and after the first couple of chapters I thought I'd love it.

It turns out this book was just one big stereotype after another.

Family lives in the mid-west. Parents have a little boy, Claude, who wants to dress as a girl 24/7. Parents support child, and don't care when people in community point and snicker that he is wearing a pink bikini at the town pool. Mother (Rosie) is a doctor, father is writer who works from home. Of course Rosie is told repe

I must say that the complex message in the blurb is what first attracted my curiosity I had heard or seen nothing about the hype of this book until recently which is good for me, I could walk in open minded and away from distractions from the hype.

The first half of the book was a struggle for me. There is a huge amount of narration and not much dialogue although at times even the dialogue was hard for me to follow at times to.

I got it though. I got the gist of it all. ...more
WOW!!! I found this novel amazing: amazing domestic fiction, amazing literature, amazing subject matter. I urge all readers who read to learn of the human condition; who read to consider ideas; who read to change your perspective on the world; who read for the love of reading to read this novel.

It’s a story of a family with five boys, and these boys are hilarious and rambunctious. The mother is an Emergency Physician and the father is an unpublished novelist and stay-at-home Dad. Bot
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Laurie Frankel is the New York Times Bestselling author of three novels, THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS, GOODBYE FOR NOW, and THE ATLAS OF LOVE. She lives with her family on a very steep hill in Seattle, but she's an east coaster at heart. She is also a baseball fan, a soup maker, a theater lover, a yoga practicer, a comma expert, and a huge reader. Welcome!!
“You can’t tell people what to be, I’m afraid,” said Rosie. “You can only love and support who they already are.” 51 likes
“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.”
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