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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

ICYMI: Frankel's storyline is powerful, important, and poignant, and the deep love, support, and acceptance within the family in This Is How It Always Is is a gift.

Dispelling fear. Taming what was scary not by hiding it, not by blocking it or burying it, not by keeping it secret, but by reminding themselves, and everyone else, to choose love, choose openness, to think and be calm. That there were more ways than just two, wider possibilities than hidden or betrayed, stalled or brokenhearted, male or female, right or wrong. Middle ways. Ways beyond.

I posted this week that I'm happily reading Laurie Frankel's most recent novel, Family Family. I realized that I read Frankel's novel This Is How It Always Is pre-blog, and that I need a review of that one on the site.

In Frankel's novel, Claude is the youngest of five brothers. He dreams of being a princess when he grows up, and he would like to be called Poppy and wear the dresses he loves out of the house. Poppy's family is full of love, and they fear for Poppy out in the world. Yet keeping the whole person of Poppy a secret or thwarting Poppy's clothing, name, or other choices doesn't feel right--or sustainable--either. They will all need to follow Poppy's lead and lean on their bravery and unwavering devotion to each other in order to face the potential cruelty of a world that still often demands one of two gender identities.

If you've been following along, you might have noticed that for me, small moments or elements in a novel that don't feel as though they ring true are sometimes enough to make me stop reading.

Very early on, the family setup and characters in This Is How It Always Is rang false to me, as though they were caricatures of a quirky family. I considered abandoning the book, predicting that my irritation might grow.

But: this book! The heart of the book is a complete gem. This Is How It Always Is soars when it explores the heart-wrenchingly real emotions, torn feelings, intense worry, and the overreaching, all-encompassing love from Poppy’s parents. Those elements were exceptional.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Laurie Frankel is also the author of Family Family, One Two Three, The Atlas of Love, and Goodbye for Now.

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