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February book club - This Is How It Always Is

(80 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 24-Jan-17 09:54:40

Starting the thread a little early (before the books have been sent out! Don't panic!) to add something more to the details on the book club page

Here is a letter from Laurie, the author, which offers insight into why she chose to write this particular story. I read it before I read the book and found that it resonated even more because of it.

merlotgran Wed 01-Feb-17 22:53:55

Mine arrived this morning. Many thanks, Gransnet.

callgirl1 Thu 02-Feb-17 00:07:37

My book arrived today, many thanks.

eGJ Thu 02-Feb-17 08:34:23

A long bus journey yesterday means I have read February 's book already! Beautifully presented makes it intriguing before you even open the cover. Hard to start with as you are in the story straight away, but then you are swept into the middle of the Walsh-Adams family. There are funny parts, but heart breaking moments too. A topic very much in the public domain just now and this helps to reveal some of the issues. My question for Laurie is "How does your daughter feel about the book?"

annsixty Thu 02-Feb-17 08:43:49

About half way through and I am struggling rather with this book. I find my mind glazing over occasionally as time jumped quickly and the bedtime stories bored me. I will carry on though as I want to know how it pans out for the child.

Pittcity Thu 02-Feb-17 12:01:48

I have only read the first few chapters but have already had to look up a few things. A glossary of the American terms used would help us Brits!

grannylyn65 Sat 04-Feb-17 19:43:02

I am so exited to get one, smashing!!
Do I read then review, is my first !!!


CariGransnet (GNHQ) Sat 04-Feb-17 19:56:50

Hi grannylun65 - yes please - read then add your thoughts and questions for the author

nonnanna Sun 05-Feb-17 13:31:12

Thank you for my copy of 'This is how it always is' I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Laurie Frankel has bravely written a explicit account of family life with a transgender child. The descriptions of the family members and how they interact with each other is so accurate and picturable. No spoilers here but the latter part of the book highlights such a difference in cultures, it's vivid. I loved the bedtime story and it's moral in a fairytale theme. Grumwald and Princess Stephanie are so integral to understanding Claude/Poppy/the family making sense of everything. It's very cleverly interwoven. No questions for Laurie.... Just praise for being brave enough to write about something so close to home and for clearly having the ability to accept how it is. Thank you for sharing flowers I intend to pass on this book to my daughter who will be very interested in it as she works with 'dysfunctional' labelled families and often remarks on how we need more acceptance and less conformity.

Parsleywin Mon 06-Feb-17 18:12:41

I enjoyed this book very much, and feel that I have been gently educated while being entertained.

I'd like to ask if Laurie intends to write further about the issues in a teenage or young adult context.

Thanks again for the opportunity to read about a subject I might otherwise have missed.

callgirl1 Mon 06-Feb-17 22:22:58

I wasn`t too sure about the book when I started it, but ended up thoroughly enjoying it, mainly, I think, because the author was writing from experience.

gillybob Wed 08-Feb-17 13:35:19

Having only just picked my copy up from the sorting office (thank you very much for my free copy GN) I began reading last night. The cover is fab by the way. I am only about 20 pages in but will comment further when I have read some more.

Cosafina Wed 08-Feb-17 13:57:57

I got my copy and was really looking forward to reading it. Took it with me yesterday on a business trip to Yorkshire - and on the way home left my handbag on the tube! I've reported it, and am waiting to hear if I'll ever see it (and the book inside it) again.

rocketstop Thu 09-Feb-17 10:04:09

Dear Laurie,
I write this in answer to the letter you wrote to your readers.
I wasn't sure I wanted to read the book, would I be comfortable with it, would I feel it was like watching a car crash unfold, sort of disrespecting to look in on it.
I am here to tell you I was delighted by your book. While I realise it is fiction, I think it is very brave of you to write on this subject when you are going through such a similar experience with your own child. That obviously both helped, and I should imagine hindered a little in how much you wanted to reveal.

I feel educated by the book and charmed equally by Poppy and Claude, I thought the family dealt with the issues in such an upbeat way, and although they didn't always get stuff right, I think they went through a metamorphosis too.

I loved how you brought Thailand into the story and how it helped to see that people are people no matter how they live and to quote the book 'Whatever they have in their pants'

I came away from the book feeling positive and I am glad you gave us this story and I find myself wishing you well and hoping for good things for your loved little girl.
Well done and Thank you.

middleagespread Thu 09-Feb-17 18:09:45

The book weaves itself around the story of Claude, the youngest sibling in a family of boys. From the inset the parents have an inkling that maybe they were to blame for Claude's wish to be a girl.After all they had wanted a fifth child, hoping to change the run of sons, and had tried to influence the likelihood by following old wives tale's basically. Claude is absolutely lovely and I was with him every step of the way in his journey. His brothers keep him grounded, his parents indulge him in the best possible way to help him be himself. It's a hefty book, bittersweet, funny and very readable.

mbody Sun 12-Feb-17 09:41:50

Lost interest a third the way through, not a book for me although a very fashionable subject at present.

annsixty Sun 12-Feb-17 10:32:28

I am not finding this book readable at all. Far from not being able to put it down, I have to make myself pick it up in an attempt to get to the end. I am about 3/4 of the way through and finding it very hard going.

Waveney Sun 12-Feb-17 16:23:07

I have just finished this book, having had an unexpected free afternoon on such a grey day. I found it very interesting and really wanted to know how things turned out for the lovely Claude/Poppy.

I would like to ask the author how much she was influenced by popular culture. My granddaughter has (sadly) just made the transition between Disney Junior and Disney and we watch a lot of shows about slightly kooky large families ( specifically one called Stuck in the Middle). The early parts of the story seemed very like this, though not so much after the move to Seattle.

I was surprised by the Thailand section, but enjoyed the descriptive passages and made to think by the contrast in attitudes expressed by the characters there.Has the author been to Thailand?

The story within the story was a clever device.

This is a book which gives you food for thought on many levels. It is quite American, but I probably watch too many U.S. programmes so didn't find that a problem!

I notice that a different cover is illustrated on Gransnet's main page - I think the one I got is very striking and hope it is the one the publishers stick with.

callgirl1 Sun 12-Feb-17 18:12:11

My cover is white, with yellow/gold writing.

cornergran Sun 12-Feb-17 18:15:57

So is mine, callgirl. I'm struggling to get into this book. Will persevere a bit longer.

SparklyGrandma Sun 12-Feb-17 19:57:13


How do I put my name forward for the book draw for the next Bookclub book? I can read it in the time frame. I am going to try and get Laurie's book (even though its too late to comment?) because it looks interesting.

Gagagran Sun 12-Feb-17 20:57:45

I did wonder whether I was going to like this book but oh yes I did!

I found it thought provoking, funny and sad in parts. I think it showed a compassionate understanding of the struggle to be what you really are - unique. Not an easy task to pull off but Laurie did it.

It also illustrated the unexpected challenges parenthood brings but also showed what it means to be loved in a family. This book deserves acclaim for the way it tackled a difficult subject with such sensitivity.

No questions, just thanks for this book which I loved.

annsixty Sun 12-Feb-17 21:47:34

I did not like or enjoy this book. It fictionalised a situation far too complex to be to be portrayed as fiction.
There was no resolution to Claude/Poppy's life. Did he/she medicate/transgender or did he/she end up wearing dresses with a beard? I feel the author has a long way to go to resolve these issues but my very best wishes are with her and her child in their future.

grannylyn65 Mon 13-Feb-17 12:00:23

Oh how I loved this book and the trials and tribulations of a TG child. So sensitively done and the pi play so fascinating. aEspecially enjoyed parrarrel story, how could anyone not understand!!
I was so disappointed to finish it!
Please write us some more about Poppy Claude!!
I have an old friend with a trangesgender child who is attending cg clinic .

DavidH22 Tue 14-Feb-17 10:40:54

I found this a captivating read, like being the fly on a family's wall watching how they deal with the transgender wishes of a family member. The emotions of the situation are generally delicately looked at and dealt with including of those who react in an intolerant way to the trans community. If fiction aims to put the reader in shoes they would not normally wear then this certainly does that. It is brave of the writer to use her own experiences and reveal them. I felt the move to Thailand was overly dramatic and sudden so could Laurie say why she chose to deal with the situation in that way. Have you any thoughts on a sequel following Claude/Poppy through to adulthood? In the real world do you think transgender people are becoming more accepted?

suzied Thu 16-Feb-17 04:46:53

I read this book on my kindle and was a but frustrated with it. I skimmed through the fairy story passages. Too slow and predictable. I couldn't believe that 4 older brothers would be supportive of Claude/ Poppy all the time and there wouldn't be any teasing /bullying going on seemingly at any time. I'm not sure if parents should be so completely supportive of a young child's choices. I know it is the liberal thing to do, but is it always in the child's best interests? I know that's part of the debate. I know gender is a social/ psycholical as well as biological issue, but in this book not much was done to address the child's psychological issues apart from a strange counsellor and uprooting the whole family to accommodate the child's wishes. So I found the story unsatisfactory on several levels.