I know we’re well into 2019 at this point, but honestly I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since I read it. It was my last book of 2018 and I cannot get it out of my mind. So bare with me as I blabber on about how fantastic this book was.
Have you ever read a book that was so good you couldn’t stop thinking about it, well after you’ve moved on to many other books (good and bad.)
This isn’t going to be so much of a review as it is a good rant so let’s go.
This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel was a-maz-ing. It was centred entirely around a very delicate subject which at the core was a little boy named Claude who, from a very young age liked playing with “girl” toys and liked wearing bikinis to the pool and dressing up in his mother’s clothing. From a very young age Claude says things like “I’m a girl” and “When I grow up can I be a girl?”
Now, the topic itself isn’t necessarily anything new – there are many many books that revolve around or involve the topic of transgender children, teens, and adults. But what struck me so deeply about this book was how beautiful and poignant it was. Truly 100% amazing. And not entirely because the writing was well done. But this entire book was about, not just Clause (as he grows up to be Poppy) but the family as a whole.
When Claude is born he’s the last of the five children in his family and his two older brother’s voice the idea that their parents shouldn’t let Claude wear a dress to school and their reasoning isn’t so much that “he’s a boy and boys don’t do that” but rather “people are going to make fun of him; it won’t be good.” Even his older brothers aren’t necessarily concerned about shaming him as they are about protecting him.
This book isn’t just about Claude growing up into Poppy but her entire family coming together to support and love her through everything. And it was so incredibly real, too. Because we read her parents’ thoughts and movements through both raising Claude and then Poppy (as well as struggling to divide their attention among their other four children) and it’s so gorgeous how these two parents want only what is best for their child, but struggle to know exactly what that “best” is. Which I think makes this book so true and real. Despite the fact that her parents love her and support every decision to make her happy, they still struggle with the idea of “are we doing the right thing?” which I think is probably incredibly accurate for many parents navigating uncharted territory in their family dynamic.
The book ends on the note that Poppy will decide what is best for her (when it comes to hormone suppressants and surgery, etc.) as she grows older and will help her parents make the decisions that are best for her.
It’s just so beautiful. So beautifully written but amazingly honest and true and raw. I just loved the concept of Poppy having a loving and supportive family who never try to convince her that she’s anything but what she says she is as they try to protect her from the harsh and judgemental world she’s growing up in.
It truly was just a heartwarming read. And for that I gave it a 5 star rating and highly recommend it!