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This Is How It Always Is
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Archive: Other Books > This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel - 5 stars

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Ellen | 2316 comments Penn and Rosie are the parents of 5 boys: Roosevelt, Ben, Rigel, Orion and Claude. Living in a farmhouse in Madison, Wisconsin, the boys have an ideal childhood with a stay-at-home author Dad and ER doctor Mom. Claude, the youngest, begins to show signs that he feels more like a girl than a boy. He loves to wear dresses, talks about princesses and fairies, and wonders if once he becomes a girl if he will have to start all over as a baby. Penn and Rosie encourage all of their children to be themselves, whatever that self might be. Not surprisingly, when Claude, now calling himself Poppy, begins school, issues arise with classmates, their parents and even teachers. After a near violent confrontation with another child's father, Penn and Rosie decide to move their family to a more accepting environment: Seattle.

Claude now lives fully as Poppy and is best friends with next-door neighbor Aggie. Penn and Rosie have decided to keep Poppy's secret from the world except for a few close friends. Aggie's parents know the truth but have no problem with the 2 children's friendship. Poppy is happy, the older boys are protective and life seems wonderful. Until it isn't. Inevitably Poppy's secret is exposed and bullying begins. Poppy refuses to return to school and decides she must force herself to conform to a life as Claude. His parents see how unhappy their youngest has become and are at their wit's end trying to find a solution.

I am usually fairly slow listening to an audio book; sometimes it can take me a week or more. I devoured this one in less than 2 days. I like the 6 main characters in this novel very much. Penn is a jewel of a Dad who is always there for his children and spins fairy tales to them at bed time every night. Rosie is a dedicated doctor who has seen firsthand what atrocities have been done to people who are different. The boys are rough and tumble, often hilariously funny, and very protective of their little brother. Claude/Poppy is so sweet and trusting. He has no confusion about himself until other people make it their business to question his lifestyle and why his parents allow such behavior. It is tough for anyone to face such issues and especially so for a small child. Ultimately it becomes a question of whether Penn and Rosie chose the right path in keeping the secret. This is a wonderful story that I highly recommend.


KateNZ | 2667 comments Lovely review. This sounds like a beautiful book


Ellen | 2316 comments Thanks Kate! It is definitely my favorite book for the year so far.


message 4: by Joi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3834 comments What a fabulous sounding book, and a great review. I've added this to my TBR, and put myself on the hold list for the audiobook.


Susie | 4488 comments I’ve added it too. I love the cover!


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