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.
So this book is about a transgendered child and her family, but it's about so much more than that. It's about secrets--when to keep them, when they become damaging, what happens when you get caught up in them. The family in this novel is big and loving and well-intentioned. This isn't about a family not accepting their child. Quite the opposite. But all that acceptance and support and sheltering from the world can also create its own problems. I loved the nuanced way the topic was handled.
I also just adored the family. The characters were people you feel like you could hang out with. Funny and imperfect and good-hearted. The whole book just had this warm feel to it even though it tackles some serious topics. I devoured it in a few days.
Some of my favorite quotes...
The mother on sending her son to school when he started to transition to wearing girl clothes.
"She wanted to go to school with him. She wanted to don a gang jacket and sit in the back of the classroom with a bat so that everyone understood what would happen to them if they messed with her kid."
Haven't we all felt that way at some point as parents?
And on what people say when your child is dealing with something. I've had this very thought because my son is on the autism spectrum and I've gotten these kinds of comments. I appreciate kind words but we're not doing some different kind of brand of parenting. We're doing what everyone tries to do: be the best parent to meet the needs of their individual child/children.
"Or they would lay a hand on her arm and say, 'You're so brave,' or 'You're such a good mother. You're doing so well with all this.' Rosie appreciated the support but wasn't sure parenting ever really qualified as brave--or maybe it always did--because it's not like you had a choice."
And on time passing with kids. This one made my heart clench.
"Parent time is magic: downtempo and supersonic all at once, witch's time, sorcerer hours. Suddenly, while you aren't paying attention, everything's changed."
Also, I loved this from the Author's Note at the back of the book. This is how my writing process is as well.
"The novelist in me is inspired by how much raising children is like writing books: You don't know where they're going until you get there. You may think you do, but you're probably wrong. Corralling and forcing them against their will to go where you first imagined they would isn't going to work for anyone involved. Never mind you're the one writing and raising them, they are headed in their own direction, independent of you. And scary though that is, it's also how it should be."
So if you're looking for something that will warm you heart, make you think, and is a page-turner, grab this one.
Buy the book: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound