11 May / This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel [in Library Journal]
Laurie Frankel’s third novel is her most personal: as the mother of a transgender daughter, she writes what she knows with clarity, truth, and heart. Rosie and Penn already have four sons when Claude arrives. A remarkable child by all accounts, by age 3, Claude announces he wants to be a girl when he grows up. Cautious at first, the family creates a loving, nurturing world as Claude becomes Poppy.
After Rosie treats a horrifically battered young trans woman in the ER one night, her fear for Poppy’s future results in uprooting the family from Wisconsin to liberal Seattle. But even in the most accepting environments, living with secrets has challenges and consequences impossible to ignore.
Narrator Gabra Zackman superbly endows each family member with distinctive personalities, but her characterization of Poppy – her curiosity, joy, devastation, resolve – is especially affecting. Zackman is also memorable as Poppy’s unwaveringly supportive, no-nonsense grandmother and as “therapist-magician” Mr. Tonga, who proves to be the family’s best cheerleader and realist both.
With transgender rights making regular headlines, all libraries would do well to enable Frankel’s latest to show listeners how it always is – and should be – in families and communities everywhere.