Hey everyone!! Today I will be posting about, This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel. I feel this topic is essential. Especially for families and people wanting more of a fictional story about the ups and downs as one first learns, they are, in fact, potentially neither male or female, but both. Or possibly one or the other. Let's dive in!! We start in a woman named Rosie's perspective. We learn that she is a doctor who is married to her husband, Penn. Rosie had no plans to be in a relationship, especially since she had just gotten out of school and was learning her way around a hospital. Penn, however, was more than willing to wait. Literally. He was an aspiring writer. He would spend his days writing in the ER waiting room for her entire shift. Eventually, she gave in and let him come over. After that, they were in it for the long haul. Over the years, Rosie and Penn decided to grow their family of two to a family of seven. Their first son was born. They named him Roosevelt. A year later came Ben. Three years after that came two twin boys that they called Orion and Rigel. Finally, Rosie once again became pregnant. She was hoping for a girl. She wanted to have a daughter and name her Poppy after her younger sister, who died of cancer at the age of 10. Alas, a little boy, enters the world. They call him Claude. The family lives in a big farmhouse in Wisconsin. The twins are energetic and crazy. Ben is mad smart. Roo is the eldest sibling helping to pave the way. Claude, on the other hand, is not only smart, but even as a toddler loves to dress like a girl. Of course, at that age, his parents didn't think much of it. His grandmother is also very supportive of this. When it's time for Claude to start kindergarten, the family is conflicted about what to do. Roo and Ben make it clear that they would instead he not dress in dresses or skirts at school because they don't want him to get made fun of. Rosie and Penn are unsure what to do, so they do not let him go to school in dresses, but she does give him use an old purse of hers as a lunchbox. It's not long before the school contacts the parents, worried about Claude and his drawings. In all of them, Claude continues to grow smaller and smaller until he disappears completely. This is when they have a serious sit down with Claude about what he truly wants. What he truly wants is to dress as a girl and be called Poppy. One night shift, while Rosie is working in the ER. A Jane Doe arrives badly beaten. They were unable to save the girl. Within minutes they realize that this girl is a biological male who was severely beaten at a college party when her secret got found. Rosie cannot handle this. She becomes concerned about the conservative ways in the state they live in. Therefore, they pick up and move to Seattle, something their oldest son is entirely against. Years pass, and now Poppy is in the 5th grade. She's had the same best friend in Seattle since 1st grade when she met her neighbor Aggie. Aggie's parents are aware of Poppy being born Claude. All parties decide to keep it secret for now that Poppy is a biological female. Not even Aggie knows. Poppy's secret gets out when Roo writes for an essay for college about what it's like being the brother of a transgender sibling. The teacher, who takes papers home to grade, left them on the table where her husband accidentally grabbed the essay. Upon realizing this was a student essay, he hands it to his nosey secretary to send it to his wife. The secretary is also the mother of a little girl named Alison, who is a bully in Poppy's grade. Alison and a boy called Jake out Poppy and make fun of her. Poppy's life spirals. The friends that she has made defend her, but her best friend Aggie feels betrayed that Poppy never told her. Not knowing what to do, Poppy shaves her hair off, refuses to go to school, and begins dressing as a boy. Since Seattle, Rosie has been working in a small family clinic. They have tried for years to get her to go to Thailand for volunteer work. Once Poppy is outed, she decides to take Poppy and go. There, things are much different. It's not only a cultural shock, but Poppy notices that there are people like her there, and nobody seems to care. Rosie and Poppy make their way into a small, ill-equipt clinic. As Rosie spends her days trying to save as many lives as she can, Poppy, who is now going by Claude, teaches English at a school to young students. Both Poppy and Rosie's life changes immensely there. They gain a deep appreciation and perspective. Poppy finds Buddism. Not only does she fall in love with the feminine features of this male Buddha, but she also falls in love with what he represents. After months of being there, they return to the States. Penn's book is about to be published. Poppy has determined that at least right now, she is happy being both male and female. Jake apologizes for what he did. Aggie forgives her for not telling her about who she is. Overall this book has a sweet, feel-good ending. I think it's a great read that I enjoyed.