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In the tradition of The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg and Little Miss Sunshine, This Is How It Always Is reminds us all that family means protecting each other’s secrets, and standing united when those secrets find their way out. After raising four boys, Rosie and Penn think they know what to expect with their fifth, Claude. But Claude is not like his brothers. One day he puts on a dress and refuses to take it off. He wants to bring a purse to kindergarten. He wants hair long enough to sit on. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. The ensuing journey takes this family from Wisconsin to Seattle to Thailand, and somewhere along the way Rosie and Penn start to see that the fairy tale ending doesn’t always look the way it does in stories, that no family conforms perfectly to the cookie cutter model, and that in many ways, this is how it always is.
Laurie Frankel is the author of two previous novels, The Atlas of Love and Goodbye for Now. She lives in Seattle with her daughter and husband.
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