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.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel was published in hardback by Headline Review on 9 February 2017 and is the author's third novel.
When I received my advance copy of This Is How It Always Is, it was accompanied by a letter written by the author. It is a beautiful letter that goes some way to explaining how this book came about. It is a brave and honest letter and this novel is also brave, honest and incredibly heart warming.
I'll admit that I struggled with the first thirty pages or so, I haven't read this author before and I didn't know if I could cope with her writing style in the beginning. It's kind of erratic at times, jumping from place to place and character to character, it was difficult to keep up. Something just fell into place though and when baby Claude is born and introduced to the reader, I was smitten, Just as his parents were.
Claude was the fifth boy born to Rosie and Penn, they'd done everything they could to try to have a daughter. All the old-wives tales had been listened to and strange rituals carried out, but Claude arrived, a little boy, another to add to their loving family. Rosie is a busy doctor whilst Penn is a writer and works from home. Family life is chaotic, but happy. Their boys are bright and sparky, full of ideas and imagination, the perfect blend of both parents.
When Claude starts to ask if he will be a girl when he grows up and wearing a dress, his parents and brothers accept this as one of his many quirks. It's only when he insists that he must wear the dress to school that Rosie and Penn begin to realise that this is much more than a passing fad. These are modern, loving and accepting parents, whose children are the same, and for them this is a little bit different, but fine. However, other people are not so accepting and this novel follows Claude's growth, and his battles along the way.
Written with sensitivity, humour and complete sincerity, This Is How It Always Is is a study in enduring love and loyalty. It also highlights the difficulties and the heartache encountered by Claude and the rest of his family.
Totally absorbing and exquisitely composed, this is an insightful novel that broadens the imagination, explores reality and warms the heart.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
A letter from the author
Dear Early Readers
This Is How It Always is is about a family of five boys, the youngest of whom becomes a girl. This novel has required something of a leap of faith on my part, so I want to introduce myself and share a little bit about why I took it.
I have only one child (a smart, funny, currently front-toothless second grader), but she, too, used to be a little boy and is now a little girl, a transgirl, like the youngest child of the family in this book. She is why sharing this story, even though it's fiction, requires some bravery. She is also why I've done it anyway.
There are so many kids like mine, families like mine, families unlike mine, who don't conform in other ways. I hope this book will find them and do what all good books do, which is make us feel more connected, more understood, and less alone. Over the course of This Is How It Always Is the characters come to realise that telling their stories and secrets is hard and scary and sometimes dangerous, but they must do it anyway because that's how life gets better for everyone. And this is what I came to realise over the course of this book as well.
So with courage (and a little mild panic), I humbly present This Is How It Always Is. I hope you will find it to be a compelling, provocative, heartfelt story about a family that will appeal to any reader who has ever been part of one. I believe, to the tops of my toes, that writing and reading and sharing stories is how we make the world a better place. I bet you think so too. Thank you, thank you, for allowing me to share this story with you.
Very warm wishes
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and might someday write novels) in Seattle, Washington.
She and her husband and daughter live on a nearly vertical hill from which Laurie can watch three different bridges when she's staring out her windows between words.
Laurie's earlier novels are The Atlas of Love and Goodbye For Now. This Is How It Always Is is her third novel.
Find out more at www.lauriefrankel.net
Find her Author page on Facebook
Find her on Instagram laurie.frankel
Follow her on Twitter @Laurie_Frankelhttps://twitter.com/Laurie_Frankel