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This Is How It Always Is

Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
Length: 11 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (302 ratings)

Non-member price: $31.21

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Publisher's Summary

The Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick.

A New York Times Audio best seller.

This is how a family keeps a secret...and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after...until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change...and then change the world.

This is Claude. He's five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They're just not sure they're ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude's secret. Until one day it explodes.

Laurie Frankel's This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it's about the ways this is how it always is: change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don't get to keep them forever.

©2017 Laurie Frankel (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"A lively and fascinating story of a thoroughly modern family and the giant, multifaceted love that binds them... Sparkles with wit and wisdom." (Maria Semple, best-selling author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette)
"An intelligent, life-affirming, emotionally charged story." ( Prima)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Beautifully written and performed

Loved it. Sensitively handled and developed. The story had me engaged, inspired, amused and emotional.

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic

What a beautiful story. I loved the parents and their supportive nature, they were so wonderfully written. The characters are developed well, could not stop listening.

3 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

Beautifully written and performed, I enjoyed every moment of this story. The cadence of the writing, the characters, the flow of it and how invested in even some of the minor characters I became made me feel part of the story; indeed, their family!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A heartwrenching lesson in tolerance

A fabulous story about acceptance and learning to cope with unexpected life challenges. An emotional journey as a parent, sibling and child with gender identity issues. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautifully worded and honest story of these characters.

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  • IRB
  • 11-02-2020

Just Fantastic

Combine a great author with exceptional narration and the only disappointment is finishing the story. This is a story of unconditional love. Nothing more and nothing less. It is a beautifully descriptive story brought alive with sublime narration.

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Such a fantastic story

Such a fantastic book with a fantastic story. I was caught up in all of the emotions from start to finish, cannot recommend enough.

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A truly gorgeous and enjoyable story

I absolutely loved this story. It was so beautifully written and the narrator did such a wonderful job. I could not put it down. A joyous tale of acceptance and love. Highly recommended.

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Hard to put stars on.

I didn't know if I would like this book or not. It sounded interesting and something that I had never read about before. Some of the reviews on Goodreads tempered my enthusiasm by saying that it was a little syrupy, but that just meant that I wanted to check it out for myself. I recommend that others do this too. It is worth reading. It was well narrated too.

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LOVED it!!

LOVED this book! I did not want it to end, it made me laugh and cry and wonder. Beautifully written and the narration was superb. Highly recommend!!

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Beautiful story

I loved how this book was narrated
I loved this family
I loved their story

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-03-2018

Favourite book of the year

I loved everything about this story! It is well crafted, insightful, tender, deals with complex issues in an authentic and believable way. beautiful performance by the reader.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Alexandra (Audible Editor)
  • 16-03-2017

A completely genius debut

Transgender issues have been talked about from many different perspectives but through the eyes of five-year-old Claude, Laurie Frankel manages to present us with something entirely new. And in the process, she's managed to make me think about gender and identity in a completely different way. As young Poppy gradually emerges, the listener is encouraged to confront the complexities of the situation as well as realising that they by no means define a person or their potential.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Ms. Laura Mercier
  • 17-06-2017

Perfect

One of those stories you don't want to end. Heartbreaking, beautiful and absolutely gorgeous- a must read!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Boo
  • 11-04-2017

An incredible book!

If you could sum up This Is How It Always Is in three words, what would they be?

Engaging, absorbing and brilliant!

What was one of the most memorable moments of This Is How It Always Is?

Claude/Poppy discovering the 'middle way' and Buddhism in Thailand

What does Gabra Zackman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The narration brings a sensitivity and vulnerability to the voice of Poppy and Claude.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was at times heartbreaking, at others life-affirming and left me with a sense of optimism

Any additional comments?

I loved the story, the way it was told and will remember the complex cahracters

3 people found this helpful

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  • AA
  • 07-03-2017

An intelligent take on gender issues

Where does This Is How It Always Is rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It comes pretty high up!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The scenes where Penn reads the bedtime stories

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely

Any additional comments?

Laurie Frankel has done a brilliant job of presenting to the listener all the most pressing and contentious transgender issues in this accessible, often funny and touching novel. From wanting to wear a dress and carry a handbag on his first day at primary school to hiding a secret from the girlfriends that he loves having sleepovers with, Claude has to navigate some complicated truths on the road to properly becoming Poppy. But the true brilliance of this book is in its consistent ability to make you smile through all the mini-disasters and prejudices of others. And all of that coupled with the fact that this is Frankel's debut!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chloe
  • 14-02-2019

Brilliant story

Really enjoyed this book, a lovely coming of age story bought into the 21st century.

1 person found this helpful

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  • creative genius
  • 27-06-2018

Takes a bit of time

It took me a little bit to get into the story and realise what it was about, but totally worth it. A powerful story about being true to who you are for anyone.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Disorganised Mum
  • 05-06-2017

Wonderful

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Thought provoking and emotional. Very well done on a tricky subject. Extremely well written.

1 person found this helpful

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  • catherine
  • 26-05-2017

Brilliant, beautiful, sad and thought provoking

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

For sure. It's brilliantly written and the plot is like nothing i've ever read before. It has changed the way I think about gender.

What was one of the most memorable moments of This Is How It Always Is?

The relationship between mother, father and their 'child' - I loved seeing how they guided Claude/Poppy through her childhood.

What does Gabra Zackman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Softly narrated in a tone that made me cry - more than once!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

For sure, cry. But in a heart warming way.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Laura
  • 06-05-2017

Beautiful book and narration

I loved everything about the story and the narration. A slightly cheesy novel, but nether the less hard hitting & thought provoking. Very well written and great characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Effie
  • 02-10-2019

Wonderful

Beautifully written, and extremely thought provoking, filled with pathos yet very warm. Narrated with feeling and humanity