“This Is How It Always Is” review

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“This Is How It Always Is” review

Unlike most LGBTQ+ novels, this story is told from the parents’ perspective, delving into their effort to comprehend that their little boy doesn’t, in fact, feel like a boy. 

Unlike most LGBTQ+ novels, this story is told from the parents’ perspective, delving into their effort to comprehend that their little boy doesn’t, in fact, feel like a boy. 

Maddy Rekhop

Unlike most LGBTQ+ novels, this story is told from the parents’ perspective, delving into their effort to comprehend that their little boy doesn’t, in fact, feel like a boy. 

Maddy Rekhop

Maddy Rekhop

Unlike most LGBTQ+ novels, this story is told from the parents’ perspective, delving into their effort to comprehend that their little boy doesn’t, in fact, feel like a boy. 

When three-year-old Claude says he wants to be a girl when he grows up, parents Rosie and Penn don’t question it. He also wants to be a scientist, a train and an ice cream cone. At first, Claude simply wishes to wear princess dresses around the house and bikinis to the pool, but once school begins, Rosie and Penn know this isn’t a “phase” their child will outgrow. So, Claude transitions into Poppy.  Unlike most LGBTQ+ novels, this story is told from the parents’ perspective, delving into their effort to comprehend that their little boy doesn’t, in fact, feel like a boy. 

While some books about transgender individuals showcase the struggle to feel accepted by their families, the author of This Is How It Always Is makes Poppy’s parents, siblings and even his grandmother open-minded. Because of this, This Is How It Always Is received criticism for the family seeming “too perfect” and not addressing the difficulties gender-nonconforming children encounter. While Poppy’s family is supportive of her transition, at times, Penn and Rosie struggle to understand that this is Poppy’s journey and not one that they can map out for her. We ___ Poppy feeling like she’s being shoved out of the closet, not walking out on her own. Rosie and Penn are more ignorant than you’ll want them to be. Poppy won’t always be your favorite character, but this story needs to be read, so any annoyances felt while reading this novel are worth it. 

One aspect of the book we felt wasn’t realistic was the way Rosie and Penn deal with issues regarding Poppy’s gender. When Poppy doesn’t know how to respond to transphobic parents and elementary school bullies, her parents don’t give her strategies to defend herself. Instead, the family packs up and moves across the country. When another issue arises, Poppy’s mother whisks her across the globe to Thailand. In real life, children like Poppy might not have the resources to literally and figuratively run away from their problems. 

At times, you will want to throw this book across the room out of pure frustration, but chances are you won’t be able to because you can’t seem to part from the characters for even a moment. This Is How It Always Is will break your heart and put it back together within a span of 323 pages, so if you’re up for an emotional read, this one’s for you.