This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel was recommended to me on a podcast I often listen to called What Should I Read Next? with Modern Mrs Darcy. What I like about her podcast is that she talks with real readers, big bloggers, small bloggers, and others about what they are reading. On the episode I was listening to recently, her guest mentioned This is How it Always is as a favorite from this past year so I thought I would check it out.
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.
It is the story of a normal family with both parents, five sons, and a secret. Rosie and Penn are wonderful parents providing a nurturing, encouraging home for their sons to explore, question and grow. All things that I, myself, have strived for in my own home.
When Claude, the baby, begins talking at a VERY early age and walking and growing and baking and cooking, Penn and Rosie become aware of Claude’s uniqueness. When he begins to want to wear dresses and expresses his desire to become a girl when he grows up, they allow him the freedom to be who he is.
The trouble starts when they allow Claude to become Poppy, a girl with a penis and, unintentionally begin to harbor a secret.
Here is the deal. This is How it Always is raises all kinds of questions about parenting, about transgender issues, about friendships, and about worldview.This is How it Always is- by Laurie Frankel, raises all kinds of questions about parenting, about transgender issues, about friendships, and about worldview. Click To Tweet
I was completely drawn into the story right from the beginning because here was a family of boys and the author painted a very truthful view of a family filled with testosterone. The noise, the activity, the competition, and the love. Of course, I enjoyed that.
When Claude was born and the direction of the story become more evident, I found myself thinking, “Oh, no. Don’t go there. Don’t go there.” I do not want to read about a transgender kid. My ignorance and, truthfully, fear, raised its ugly head.
Ultimately, tho, this story is about family and about parenting, and about the decisions and goals we have for our children.
To me, one of the most interesting things in this story was the parenting styles of Rosie and Penn. Being a physician, Rosie was a bit more analytical and black and white about issues. Penn, a writer, was philosophical and creative. And yet, they came together to parent this child through a situation that was so, so difficult. They did the best they could.
I enjoy books that make me think and wonder and I have to admit I truly did not want to review this book because it left me with so many questions.
- Does this really happen?
- How do we let a 6-year-old make decisions like this?
- How do we not?
- And why in the world should I believe that Laurie Frankel anyway?
And then I found this: From He to She in First Grade . An article in the NY Times from September 2016 by Laurie Frankel about her experience with her own son. Fascinating! I guess she does know something about this. 🙂
I still have so many questions about this transgender issue, but the truth is I have so many questions about a ton of parenting issues. As parents, we have the awesome and actually scary responsibility to make all kinds of really huge decisions for our children every. single. day.
We make quick parenting judgments and well thought out compromises all the time based only on the knowledge we have at any given time. We do the best we can.We make quick parenting judgments and well thought out compromises all the time based only on the knowledge we have at any given time. Click To Tweet
It is very difficult for me to rate this book on a few different levels. The book is well researched, and very well written. There is this whole Thailand thing in the middle which is very strange and seems a bit contrived for the story. Also, as I listened to this on Audible and I really didn’t like the narrator. She was overly dramatic and made Penn sound very weak and Poppy kind of pathetic at times. So if you choose to read this book, I would definitely recommend you get the actual paper copy. 🙂
That being said, the subject matter is difficult and I always enjoy a book that leads me to think more deeply and leaves me with questions to ponder. So I am giving 3 Etymons for This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel. Probably 4 Etymons if you get the hardback version – it is definitely worth the read. 🙂
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Also, please comment with your favorite 5 etymon reads as I am always searching for the next great book!
Just in case you’ve forgotten the rating system, here is a review:
This is Etymon:
Named for those little things that make up books, better known as words!
- 5 Etymons = Mind-blower. The kind of story that you absolutely must read.
- 4 Etymons = Excellent read. I loved it. It entertained me.
- 3 Etymons = A good book. I would recommend and read it again.
- 2 Etymons = Not so much. I didn’t really enjoy this book
- 1 Etymons = Don’t even waste your time. I probably didn’t even finish it.