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Summary

The Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick.

A New York Times Audio best seller.

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.

©2017 Laurie Frankel (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"A lively and fascinating story of a thoroughly modern family and the giant, multifaceted love that binds them.... Sparkles with wit and wisdom." (Maria Semple, best-selling author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette)

"An intelligent, life-affirming, emotionally charged story." (Prima)

"Every once in a while, I read a book that opens my eyes in a way I never expected." (Reese Witherspoon, Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)  

What listeners say about This Is How It Always Is

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A completely genius debut

Transgender issues have been talked about from many different perspectives but through the eyes of five-year-old Claude, Laurie Frankel manages to present us with something entirely new. And in the process, she's managed to make me think about gender and identity in a completely different way. As young Poppy gradually emerges, the listener is encouraged to confront the complexities of the situation as well as realising that they by no means define a person or their potential.

5 people found this helpful

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Perfect

One of those stories you don't want to end. Heartbreaking, beautiful and absolutely gorgeous- a must read!

3 people found this helpful

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An incredible book!

If you could sum up This Is How It Always Is in three words, what would they be?

Engaging, absorbing and brilliant!

What was one of the most memorable moments of This Is How It Always Is?

Claude/Poppy discovering the 'middle way' and Buddhism in Thailand

What does Gabra Zackman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The narration brings a sensitivity and vulnerability to the voice of Poppy and Claude.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was at times heartbreaking, at others life-affirming and left me with a sense of optimism

Any additional comments?

I loved the story, the way it was told and will remember the complex cahracters

3 people found this helpful

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  • AA
  • 07-03-17

An intelligent take on gender issues

Where does This Is How It Always Is rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It comes pretty high up!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The scenes where Penn reads the bedtime stories

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely

Any additional comments?

Laurie Frankel has done a brilliant job of presenting to the listener all the most pressing and contentious transgender issues in this accessible, often funny and touching novel. From wanting to wear a dress and carry a handbag on his first day at primary school to hiding a secret from the girlfriends that he loves having sleepovers with, Claude has to navigate some complicated truths on the road to properly becoming Poppy. But the true brilliance of this book is in its consistent ability to make you smile through all the mini-disasters and prejudices of others. And all of that coupled with the fact that this is Frankel's debut!

2 people found this helpful

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Transgender story told from a family perspective.


This is the story of Rosie and Pen and there four and a half boys.

The story revolves around their last born child who is not sure of which title to use Claude or Poppy. (The Poppy name choice is also a tender sad moment in the book)

The story has a strong moral compass to what is ethically right. I loved the bedtime story of Princess Stephanie and Grimwald which Pen (writer husband) told to his children, It being a metaphor for growing up and difficult scenarios.

I rather like the last few chapters when Rosie and Claude/Poppy worked in Thailand. The Buddhist enlightenment and way of life was very touching and simply. It helped to explain a lot of issues that we sometimes struggle with in western cultures.

The book throws up lots of questions, which it should considering the subject matter.
It has certainly made me relook at how I see those around me.
Effectively the book asks
Is what we have in our pants relevant to the rest of the world?
Does one have to disclose everything about oneself, if one is perceived by society to be abnormal?
Why does society have the right to judge?

I think it’s worth a listen, but who am I to judge.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant story

Really enjoyed this book, a lovely coming of age story bought into the 21st century.

1 person found this helpful

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Takes a bit of time

It took me a little bit to get into the story and realise what it was about, but totally worth it. A powerful story about being true to who you are for anyone.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Thought provoking and emotional. Very well done on a tricky subject. Extremely well written.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant, beautiful, sad and thought provoking

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

For sure. It's brilliantly written and the plot is like nothing i've ever read before. It has changed the way I think about gender.

What was one of the most memorable moments of This Is How It Always Is?

The relationship between mother, father and their 'child' - I loved seeing how they guided Claude/Poppy through her childhood.

What does Gabra Zackman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Softly narrated in a tone that made me cry - more than once!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

For sure, cry. But in a heart warming way.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful book and narration

I loved everything about the story and the narration. A slightly cheesy novel, but nether the less hard hitting & thought provoking. Very well written and great characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-03-18

Favourite book of the year

I loved everything about this story! It is well crafted, insightful, tender, deals with complex issues in an authentic and believable way. beautiful performance by the reader.

2 people found this helpful