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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.

granh1 Wed 15-Mar-17 20:18:02

The story is about a boy called Claude. He is the youngest of his family, and has four brothers. His mum, Rosie, would have liked a girl, as her sister died when she was young – but accepts that fate has sent yet another boy. A problem appears though, Claude likes wearing dresses, grows his hair long and dreams of being a princess. It soon becomes apparent that there is a gender problem, he is a girl (Poppy) in a boy’s body (Claude).

The story is about how Claude and his family cope with this. I wasn’t sure that it was my kind of story, but from the first page I was impressed with the integrity and humour with which it was told. The main problem for the family was to keep it a secret, even to the extent of moving locality. However, secrets can’t be kept forever and there is devastation for Claude when the secret gets out.

His parents try hard to accept the situation. His father, Penn, makes up a bed time fairy story to try to explain to Claude/Poppy what is happening. When there secret comes out and Poppy/Claude is so devastated he/she cuts off her/his hair, a solution is found to give time out with a mother/child trip to Thailand. There they are completely immersed in a new culture and environment. There are new challenges too, Rosie helps at a medical centre which has no modern equipment, and Claude takes over the role of teaching children English, even though he is only a child himself. He sees a more open culture and comes onto contact with Buddhism. All of this helps him to define who he is.

There were two things I was puzzled with. The first was the title of the book, the relevance to the story I couldn’t see. The second was the ending. It implies that there is a happy ending, with everything resolved, then implies that in fact there is another unspecified ending – maybe a return to Thailand, but for everyone?

GeminiJen Thu 16-Mar-17 10:34:07

Thanks so much, Laurie. It's a great tribute to your writing that so many of us hoped for a sequel. If all goes well with the TV/film negotiations, you may yet be persuaded?
In the meantime, wishing you and your child every happiness

callgirl1 Thu 16-Mar-17 16:44:39

Maybe Laurie will reconsider regarding a sequel when her own child is older and they see how things go with her.

mrsmopp Sun 19-Mar-17 21:05:46

I apologise for this late review, but I've been waiting for new reading glasses!
Many thanks for this book, I am very pleased to receive it. The topic is completely new to me as outside my experience, - the issue of transgender has only been aired in recent years. I'm not sure I would have chosen it in a bookshop but I'm very grateful for the opportunity to read this book and improve my awareness of this issue.
Well written and most interesting. Thanks for sharing the experiences and helping us to understand thI issues.