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This Is How It Always Is: A Novel Hardcover – January 24, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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An Amazon Best Book of January 2017: In recent years we’ve seen an increasing number of memoirs from transgender individuals and from parents forging uncharted waters in order to help their transgender children live happy, healthy lives in a society that still largely defines gender by what’s in your pants. In her novel This is How It Always Is Laurie Frankel takes those real-life experiences and puts them into a big-hearted story of family and secrets. Penn and Rosie are a close, loving couple, living in Madison, Wisconsin with their five boys. But it becomes evident before long that their youngest, Claude, feels like he should have been born a girl. So how do these strong, supportive parents go about helping their son live as the person he wants to be? It’s a fascinating thing to behold. The nuances and unforeseen pitfalls of trying to protect your child from fear and hate while nurturing a sense of acceptance is daunting. What is private and what is a secret, and what is, really, nobody’s business? Sometimes secrets have a way of materializing in the blink of an eye or the span of an innocuous question, and this novel is about the lengths we will go, as parents and siblings, to protect each other. And how we react when our secrets are exposed. This is How It Always Is in an incredible read that speaks to the heart of what it means to love and be loved by family. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review
“It’s early days, but this big-hearted novel about a family with a transgender child is in the lead for the most sensitively and sincerely told story of 2017…Frankel’s portrayal of even the most openhearted parents’ doubts and fears around a child’s gender identity elevates this novel.”
―People, “Book of the Week”
“Deeply satisfying…An intimate family story…Day-to-day parenting dilemmas are where Frankel shines.”
―The New York Times Book Review
“Brave, complicated, occasionally horrifying and frequently very funny…Frankel is a first-rate storyteller."
“Frankel has tackled this controversial topic in a warm, funny and honest way and one that will undoubtedly spark thought and conversation.”
―The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Frankel’s writing is witty and wise, and her characters are reminiscent of those in family capers such as the film The Royal Tenenbaums or Commonwealth, Ann Patchett’s recent novel about an eclectic brood…This is a fascinating, gut-wrenching, timely and enjoyable read―and a must for your next book-club discussion.”
“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...This beautiful story is deeply personal, a heart-rending glimpse of an author writing her way to understanding.”
“A novel of great empathy and compassion that transcends politics…This is a family that you will take into your heart and―like all friends―you will welcome the changes that they bring to your life.”
―The Seattle Review of Books
“Sly and charming…Comes at the perfect time…This Is How It Always Is explores the travails of a modern family, where challenges about a child’s gender are the same as any other struggles of growing up.”
“A bold, honest, heartbreaking story about the choices parents make, and how life goes on, but not always according to plan. This must-read novel… is the perfect pick for book clubs.”
“One of the most timely and big-hearted family stories I have read in a long time…This is a beautiful novel about the unexpected curve balls of parent and sibling relationships, and the limitless boundaries of family love.”
“This wise and often funny novel is a compassionate lesson in discovering and welcoming what makes each of us unique.”
“Illuminatingly nuanced and heartfelt, This Is How It Always Is is the story of how a family evolves―and grows―together."
“Sharp and surprising. This is a wonderfully contradictory story―heartwarming and generous, yet written with a wry sensibility.”
―Publishers Weekly ("Pick of the Week," starred review)
"Well-plotted, well-researched, and unflaggingly interesting...As thought-provoking a domestic novel as we have seen this year."
―Kirkus (starred review)
“I was lucky enough to receive an advance reading copy of this very special book about a family with a secret. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think. Preorder your copy now.”
―Liane Moriarty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Truly Madly Guilty
“Laurie Frankel writes with more heart than anyone I can think of...With emotional acuity, admirable bravery, utter compassion, and complete understanding, she’s created a family attempting to forge a path through one of life’s most mystifying challenges: how to define what it is that makes your child who he or she is: unique, beloved, and whole. This is a novel everyone should read. It’s brilliant. It’s bold. And it’s time.”
―Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Banquet of Consequences
“In This is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel spins a beguiling tale of a sprawling, loving, ever-changing, unconventional, and yet completely typical modern family as they make their way though a world with no easy answers and no magic solutions. How does Frankel pull off such a story? With great humor and candor. With a powerful narrative voice, and a forthrightness so compelling, we are drawn into the family circle to laugh and cry with them, and to ponder issues great and small. An intimate, wonderfully moving novel that is especially relevant in today’s world.”
―Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of A Sudden Light and The Art of Racing in the Rain
“This is a perfect book club book, a book that should be read in schools, and one of my favorite reads of the year. A challenging subject handled with honesty, grace, humor, dignity, and most of all, love.”
―Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“A lively and fascinating story of a thoroughly modern family and the giant, multifaceted love that binds them. This Is How It Always Is sparkles with wit and wisdom.”
―Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette
“Laurie Frankel has written one of those very rare, special novels that examines the way we live―in our homes, in our families, in our bodies―with an astonishing balance of humor, complexity, and above all, kindness. This Is How It Always Is teaches us to look beyond the traditional binary oppositions of boy vs. girl, right vs. wrong, real vs. make-believe, and to find courage and beauty in the in-between.”
―Ruth Ozeki, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being
Top customer reviews
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I give Laurie Frankel credit for trying to write about transgender children, a new topic for many people. I appreciate her ability to describe the reality of family-life, and I was impressed by the description of Claude blossoming once allowed to be Poppy, a transformation I have seen many times. As a pediatrician, though, there are some things that I want to clarify for families who may have transgender children in the family, and be looking for guidance.
1) Gender dysphoria: Poppy is very happy and feels most whole as a female, and yet does not have any negative thoughts about her male body parts. In the book, this is attributed to the family being so accepting, but children with gender dysphoria will have negative feelings about their genitalia. This is not because of something their family did, but because they don't feel that it fits who they are on the inside. These negative feelings are incredibly common, but also do need to be addressed head-on with therapy.
2) Ask for help: The family doesn't ask for help, which, for a mother who is a doctor, and a father doing tons of research, while living in a city with plenty of resources, is an enigma to me. The parents talk to a social worker in Wisconsin via Skype, but Poppy's pediatrician is never involved and Poppy and her siblings never talk to a counselor or seek out a support group. I get that the story works best to talk about the dangers of secrets, but I don't feel like the point is ever made that none of them need to feel alone, there are many other people dealing with the same feelings and the same issues and resources to be tapped into. The way to avoid suicide, depression, and anxiety in transgender children has been very clearly shown to be an accepting environment, and that doesn't just mean at home. Look up the American Academy of Pediatrics guide to supporting transgender children for more details.
- The writing style is infuriating. Here's ONE sentence as an example: "Alone on their farm, Rosie and Penn had forgotten all about the way your neighbors' desire to live next to a mown lawn and weeded parking strip somehow trumped yours to not care and go to yoga instead of gardening on Saturday mornings, the way their kids lay out on towels in the backyard and played bad music loudly so there was nothing you could do to stop it entering your open windows and then your open ears, the way your own horde of children holding a science experiment to determine how loud you had to yell to shatter a wineglass meant you had to worry about more than the wineglass." "The whole book is like that. If you like Gilmore Girls I guess this might be appealing to you, but to me it's overly cutesy writing that screams for an editor.
- This book clearly has a message, but I think the message would have been much stronger had the story been told from the perspective of the kid who was actually experiencing gender dysphoria. This is a book primarily from the perspective of the parents. As such, it comes off as didactic, transparent, and tedious to read.
- The characters are cartoons. With the constant witty banter, the dialogue is written as if they're TV show characters rather than actual people. Nobody talks like this. It beggars belief that someone like Mr. Tongo could ever exist. It's clear that his over-the-top personality is meant to mask the fact that his role is completely functional.
- The detour into Thailand is offensive. Aside from the trip not making any sense whatsoever, it's transparent as a device to pound enlightenment into us. This is most apparent in the dialogue between Rosie and K. I'm also not thrilled to see yet again another Last Samurai or Dances with Wolves situation. Where it's the white person who comes to live among the locals and finds them wise and mystical, leaving more open-minded than before. It's not the caricature that's offensive, it's how unoriginal it is.
The ending might be the worst part. Hard to even believe how on-the-nose and cheesy it is. This is the stuff of young adult novels. I really hated this book.
Most recent customer reviews
I love this book. Because it is a fairy tale and true and says things that I never thought to look for outside of my own head.Read more