This Is How It Always Is - Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is

By Laurie Frankel

  • Release Date: 2017-01-24
  • Genre: Family
Score: 4.5
From 744 Ratings


New York Times Bestseller
The Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

“Every once in a while, I read a book that opens my eyes in a way I never expected.” —Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)

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
Longlisted for 2019 International DUBLIN Literary Award

“It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think.” —Liane Moriarty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

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.

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.


  • Interesting story badly told

    By Virg VW
    My book club chose this so I had to finish it. This could have been an engaging story in the hands of a more careful writer. Virg VW
  • This is how it always is

    By KJH423
    I read a lot and have never written a review. This book knocked me off my feet. It taught me so much, it offered me a fresh perspective, it was enlightening and totally relatable all at the same time. I loved the characters and I couldn’t put it down but I’m so very sorry it had to end. Could not recommend any more!
  • Accepting differences sentence by sentence.

    By kathlyn.anderson
    This Is How It Always Is, is a book about accepting differences, parents striving to protect their children, and a deep desire to find a place where different is okay. I devoured this book in a little over two days, as I just wanted to find out how Claude/Poppy's story wrapped up. However, one of the most intriguing and clever things about this novel, is that just as Grumwalds/Princess Stephanie's story: “[. . .] has an ending, not the end, a stopping point, no more than a pause really”, so does the Walsh-Adams family story. I didn’t discover the end of Poppy’s story and therefore it has the ability to live in my thoughts perpetually. This ambiguous ending also provides readers the chance to look around themselves, their lives and identify the “neither-nor” and the “both-ands”. These concepts become ones the readers can choose to embrace in their own lives, not just in Poppy’s, Penn, Rosie, and all those touched by Poppy. An overarching theme for this novel is one we all live in our daily lives: uncertainty. This book felt very authentic to me. I even remember asking myself at the midway point if Laurie Frankel should be sharing Poppy’s story, only because it felt so real; like Poppy should be the one telling her own story. Penn and Rosie were inspiring. As parents, their priority was making their children happy. This is obviously a concept most parents understand and try to live by, but the way Frankel penned this concept for Penn and Rosie was uplifting: “Our first concern is happiness, of course. But not just today.’ Because it wasn't that simple, was it? Raising children was the longest of long games. [. . .] ‘We want him to be happy next week, next year, all the years to come too. It’s hard to make out this path, but it’s even harder to see where it leads.” Rosie and Penn strike a perfect balance for me, of letting their children learn on their own and wanting to protect their children from hurt. This becomes especially apparent when Dr. Tongo points out that maybe they have parented too well. As parents struggle daily, so do Rosie and Penn- what is good parenting, and how do we do it? Frankel shows us the ups and downs of parenting through a unique situation, is often just like parenting in general: we all want we think is best for our children. I would urge the reader not to skip the Author’s Note at the end of the novel. It helped me understand Laurie Frankel’s experience writing the novel, but also a little about raising a transgender child. I love that she acknowledged that “It’s true that my child used to be a little boy and is now a little girl. But this isnt her story. I cant tell her story; I can only tell my own story and those of the people I make up” My previous concern, because the book felt so authentic is that Frankel didn’t have the right to share Poppy’s story. Here, in her authors note, she acknowledges, no, she doesn’t have the right to tell her own daughters story, but she can tell the story of the characters she makes up. I also appreciated some of the other points she addresses in these last two pages. The most powerful quote closes her time with the reader: “I know this book will be controversial, but honestly? I keep forgetting why.”
  • Inspiringly awesome 💜

    By Hardcore Book Lover
    This book is a must read. A young child who knows what they want and an incredible family that stands by her side. Such an heartwarming novel of the struggles one faces being transgender and so young, and within a society that’s still not fully accepting nor understanding. Absolutely loved the book!
  • So Moving!

    By k_lipka
    Few books move me so much as to have physical reactions—laughing out loud, weeping, or goose-bumping from head to toe—but this is one of those books!
  • This is How It always Is

    By CMRosebaom
    This is not how it ha always been. There has been only one other time that I didn’t finish reading a book which I started to read. I’ m not saying that it isn’t a good book, but that at this time I’m not in the mood to read a book on such a serious matter. I just want to be entertained. It started out about a boy wanting to dress like a girl before being gay to transsexual was ok and the boy’ family. That’s not a subject that lends itself to entertainment.
  • This is how it always is

    By Bobbyjjbillybobjojo
    This is a book that causes you to think about what it's like to be the parent, sibling, best friend and a transgender person. It takes you through early life and decisions parents make who love all of their children. Although I thought the end was a bit too optimistic, I enjoyed learning more about a family's journey answering tough questions in our society and other societies.
  • Excellent

    By WilkerTaos
    Frankel delivers a beautifully written story about a growing family with challenges they might never imagine they were equipped to handle. I would hope to be half the mother Rosie is to Claude. Loved it.
  • Fair

    By Crewp
    Important story. While well written, it unfortunately felt too long and dragged.