Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Books I've Loved: This is How It Always Is

I really enjoyed this book although at the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to.

Rosie and Penn's romance didn't ring true to me, but when I realized fairy-tales were a big part of the story and the lives of this family, it sat a little better to me.  But the book didn't really get to me until the couple started having children.  Each kid has such a unique personality and the whole family dynamic comes across in a very real and fresh way.

And then of course, a glitch in the idyll.  Claude, the youngest of Penn and Rosie's five sons, wants to be a princess.

To begin with the family don't think a lot about it.  Kids play dress-up all the time.  Okay, so the older four never wanted gowns, but Claude is only five.

Soon it becomes clear Claude doesn't just want to pay at being a princess; he wants to be a girl.  And everything changes for the family.  The school is not as understanding as it should be.  Other kids are fine with it, but their parents aren't.

After a violent incident with one of Claude's friends' fathers and Rosie treats the victim of a beating in the ER where she works, the family up-sticks and move across country to a new home where Claude has never existed and the family has four sons and a daughter named Poppy.

This book is about keeping secrets.  And what happens when eventually, that secret gets out.  It's a book about parenting and how to parent a child who is wholly different to your other children.  It's about identity and being true to yourself.

The author is the mother of  a transgender child, but she takes great care to point out this isn't her child's story.  But there is a ring of authenticity about the ways Penn and Rosie react in certain circumstances.

Definitely one I recommend.

But don't just trust me.  Here's 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.

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.


  1. It always seems to be the parents who have the problems, not the kids.

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