This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel is an eye-opening (realistic fiction) look into the world of a transgender child. Claude is the fifth boy in his family, and he realizes before kindergarten that he is much more comfortable in girls’ clothing.
His parents, Doctor Rosie and writer Penn, come to embrace his inclination. Once they agree to let him wear girl accessories, they run into static at the school and with “friends.” After Rosie has an ER patient, killed for being transgender, she decides the family needs a fresh start somewhere more open.
They move and allow Claude the chance to be Poppy. In doing so, they decide it’s not necessary to let everyone know that Poppy is originally Claude. All is well until the secret comes out. Poppy withdraws and his mother decides to bring him to Thailand with her while she works in clinic there. This is an eye-opening experience for both of them; the change of lifestyle provides some clarity as to their next steps.
Throughout the book, we also get to know the rest of the family’s struggles and eccentricities. There are nuances to the story that I appreciated, such as Penn’s ongoing storytelling to mimic reality. Parenting as a team is an important component as well.
Prior to reading this book, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around a child of such a young age going through these feelings and incidents. I left the story feeling more open-minded and so sympathetic to Claude/Poppy’s character and to the parents. Choosing a complicated path littered with disdain/ignorance as the only way to feel authentic and happy is an incredible journey for anyone, let alone a child. This story attacks this choice in a thought-provoking way.