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Book Review: This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel

Such a perfect book to celebrate Pride month!

This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel

Genre: Domestic Fiction/LGBT+

BUG Rating: 4/5

Overall: LOVED IT – A story of unconditional love, acceptance for those who are different and the challenging concept of bringing up children – the main thing we all want for our kids is to be happy and throughout this story, that is exactly what Penn and Rosie strive to accomplish for their children. It’s a thought provoking read, with plenty of heart breaking moments and loveable quirky characters and I was totally absorbed from the first page.  

Easy is nice, but it’s not as good as getting to be who you are or stand up for what you believe in.

Plot:

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.


After seeing this on Reese’s book club picks, I knew I had to read it, and it would be good – of course, Reese is always right!

The book explores a family’s journey when their son decides he wants to wear a dress to preschool and how they navigate their ‘new life’ as a family. Rosie and Penn try to do what is best for Poppy/Claude, whilst also raising 4 other boys. After careful thought, the family uproot from the only place they have ever known in Wisconsin, to move to the more open minded, accepting, Seattle, where Claude becomes Poppy. And everything is going fine, until the inevitable happens, and Poppy’s secret is revealed at school.

I loved the story, it’s an important subject, but also, a lot resonated with me in terms of actual ‘parenting’. Parenting is hard. We try our best, sometimes we do make bad decisions, but at the centre, all parents are trying to do what Penn and Rosie are doing- just providing unconditional love and keeping your child safe and happy. One question though –  would all parents be as accepting so quickly?

I did find the story a bit slow in parts, but I gradually got totally emotionally invested in Poppy/Claude, and all the family’s lives. The writing was beautiful, emotional and drew me right in.

I found it interesting, and ultimately clever, how Frankel interwove the fairytale story, told by Penn, every night at bed time. I didn’t like it at first, but then I grew to absolutely love it. I loved how the important trials and tribulations of the children’s lives were subtly told and how Penn would help them navigate these through Grumweld and Princess Stephanie.

What I hadn’t realised until the author’s note at the end, was the author’s first hand experience of the subject, although she says it is not her story, or her child’s, you can definitely tell from reading that this story feels real. The final bit of writing in the author’s note, really does bring everything together and increase the whole experience of the read.

I was swept away by this amazing story, all centring around love and bravery.


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