Also, be forewarned I highlighted pretty much the entire thing.
I usually am a person who opts not to read a synopsis before starting a book (as was the case here) and encourages others to do the same. However, since we are living in a world where
This is the story of Rosie and Penn’s family. Five spirited boys who each have their own delightful personalities. While this is the story of the entire brood, the focus in This Is How It Always Is is mainly on the youngest, 5-year old Claude . . . .
“He said he wanted to a chef when he grew up. He also said he wanted to be a cat when he grew up. When he grew up, he said, he wanted to be a chef, a cat, a vet, a dinosaur, a train, a farmer, a recorder player, a scientist, an ice cream cone, a first basement, or maybe the inventor of a new kind of food that tasted like chocolate ice cream but nourished like something his mother would say yes to for breakfast. When he grew up, he said, he wanted to be a girl.”
Penn and Rosie encourage Claude to be any and all of those things whenever they are brought up. But one of his “when I grow up” wishes seemed to stick a bit more than the others . . . .
“When I grow up and become a girl, will I start over? . . . . Will I have to start being a girl from the beginning and grow up all over again? Or will I be a girl who’s the age that I am when I’m growed-up and become one?”
Claude’s persistence regarding his desire to become a girl grows to the point where Rosie and Penn are faced with the decision of allowing him to do just that which lead them to question whether or not they’re doing the right thing . . . .
“You never know. You only guess. This is how it always is. You have to make these huge decisions on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands, who trusts you to know what’s good and right and then be able to make that happen. You don’t get to see the future. And if you screw up, if with your incomplete, contradictory information you make the wrong call, well, nothing less than your child’s entire future and happiness is at stake. It’s impossible. It’s heartbreaking. It’s maddening. But there’s no alternative.”
So Claude gets a new wardrobe and handles the dreaded “bathroom” dilemma like a pro and ceases to be a sad little shell of a person, instead becoming a vibrant and wonderful Poppy. And when their town proves to be not quite as forward-thinking as Rosie and Penn would like it to be, they pack up and move across country where Poppy is only Poppy and no one knows about Claude. But a secret so big can’t remain a secret forever . . . . .
This book was everything. As I said in a status update, I want to marry it. Either that or I want to track down this family and become a fly on their wall so I can be a part of their life. I want to dress as Grunwald for Halloween and become a night fairy in charge of all the stars after I’m sure my own children are asleep.
These characters were perfection. Rosie and Penn were so real - parents with the best of intentions that somehow ended up fucking up anyway, because that’s what parenting is all about and really as long as your kids know one thing, everything else is cake . . .
Poppy was absolutely brilliant . . . .
“What are you then?”
“I’m all of the above. And I’m also more to come.”
Carmy was the grandma every child should dream of having . . .
“You’re too old to be open-minded and tolerant,” said Rosie.
“I’m too old not to be.”
And although I’m pretty sure I’d put triple locks on my door if she lived next to me, Aggie was a hoot . . . .
“Weird,” said Aggie. “What do you think it means?” “I dunno.” Poppy shrugged. “Something. There’s always some kind of secret message.” Aggie considered the matter. “I think your dad wants us to know it’s okay to use drugs. And not to tell anyone about it.”
When I started this story I was having a very much this type of experience . . . .
At some point things changed . . . .
Making my kid look at his brother with an expression that clearly stated . . . .
This Is How It Always Is shows that . . . .
But you gotta do what’s true to you, and for anyone who doesn’t like it????
“Fuck the bastards.”
I will confess the ending of this one kind of went off the rails, but I loved the story so much I’m not deducting anything for it. I will also say there’s a solid chance if you are not a parent (or at minimum old enough to have experience with your friends and relatives kids) you might not be able to fully appreciate the beauty contained within these pages. All the Stars.