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“This Is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel

RFM team members share a book they’ve enjoyed.

Growth, transformation, change – some of the most natural words in the lexicon represent the most challenging parts of family life. 

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel is a story about a family feeling its way through life with a trans child. Rosie and Penn are the parents of four boys when Claude is born. When he grows up, Claude says he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn know they want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. As Claude gets older, they’re just not sure what that looks like for the family as a whole. Soon everyone is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

Frankel, who is the parent of a trans child, has created rich characters who make you feel like you’re a member of the family. Every secret kept, every parenting conversation, every emotional turn in the plot reads like it was lifted from real life. 

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about the bold and heartbreaking choices parents make and above all, about deep and authentic family love. A perfect book-club choice, there is much to learn about gender for all parents from the grace and dignity with which Frankel shares this family’s journey. 

Parenting is always complicated, sometimes wonderful, and often challenging. Frankel’s poignant novel illustrates all of this for the reader and so much more.

Karen Schwartzkopf has her dream job as managing editor of RFM. Wife, mother, arts and sports lover, she lives and works in the West End with her family, including husband Scott, who not coincidentally is RFM’s creative director. You can read Karen’s take on parenting her three daughters – Sam, Robin, and Lindsey, also known as the women-children – in the Editor’s Voice.
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