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Fixed on Fiction

This Is How It Always Is

In June, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel.

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. 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.

-Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

Here are some of the initial comments readers made while discussing their reaction to this month’s selection:

  • Thumbs up. I loved it. Beautiful writer. The kids were a little too perfect…but it was touching. I appreciated the concept that you don’t fix the person- you fix society.
  • Thumbs up. I laughed out loud at times. I loved the portrayal of the kids. I could picture those characters. I appreciated the parents wanting to address the issue and help Claude, not change him.
  • Thumbs up. I learned a lot…about what a transgender child might go through. I also liked the reversal of roles with the mom being the breadwinner. Also enjoyed the fairy tale.
  • So-so. I thought the part about Penn and Rosie approaching Poppy’s transformation so differently was very well done. But I hated the writing style.
  • So-so. The secrecy was a big deal for me. You can’t run from your problems (i.e. the move across country), that didn’t ring true. In the end- you can’t withdraw your child from life.
  • I loved it. The Jane Doe scene was such a wow moment. I liked the conflict between Penn and Rosie. And the Thailand portion was awesome!
  • Thumbs up. It made me realize how easy my life has been. Although some of the repetitiveness did feel a little preachy.
  • I liked it a lot. The language was clever. I liked that Rosie wasn’t the emotional/weepy one. She had to go to a third world country to realize there’s another way to live.
  • I liked it. I liked and hated Tongo at the same time. Rosie did bother me because she didn’t always value/respect Penn’s opinions.

These are simply some of the highlights from our discussion. Feel free to leave additional thoughts on This is How it Always Is in the comments section below.


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