This Is How It Always Is: A Novel

Written by:
Laurie Frankel
Narrated by:
Gabra Zackman

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
January 2017
11 hours 7 minutes
The Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

*Named one of the top 10 books of 2017 by People Magazine*

“It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think.” —Liane Moriarty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

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.

'The audiobook will undoubtedly steal hearts' - AudioFile
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Debbie B.

I didn't find this story very believable. The parents seemed too unreal and perfect without parenting faults and anger, or frustration. It wasn't gritty enough for me and I couldn't relate. But I haven't had to deal with a transgender child, so have no experience of this.

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Nancy K.

I loved this book. It is beautifully written and exquisitely narrated. A fascinating and moving story about the unconditional love of a family navigating a very sensitive and challenging subject with humor, honesty and courage. Everyone should read this beautiful novel.

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Glenda G

This is a five star story read by a five star narrator.Worth it, on every level.

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Stephanie C.

I loved this book so much! She really makes you think and see things in a different light. The narrator was excellent as well

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Sherri P.

Beautifully touching and heart wrenching story of unconditional love and acceptance. Superb narration!

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Julia B.

Enjoyed the book. A beautiful story and excellent narration.

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Kelly C.

Absolutely loved this book from start to finish and the narrator was brilliant

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Laura H.

Tough subject tackled with humor and grace. Not blatantly biased or in your face, so brings about great conversation in book clubs.

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Mladen M

Beautiful book, so full of thought and emotion. I felt the same as one of the other people reviewing the book - one of the most amazing the narrators I've ever heard, it feels like she speaks straight to your soul, rather than read out words.

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Rosanna M

Witty and moving. Such a great read, well, listen! The narrator has the most beautiful voice. She speaks straight to your heart.

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Evelyn Pickard

This was gut wrenching to read as a mother. Beautifully written, I listen in the car and was always disappointed to arrive at my destination!

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Jimmy S.


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Sandy Y.

This story gives me hope. It’s a beautifully written tale of how one family chooses to see the miracles each of their children bring into the world. The narrator was superb and had me laughing out loud! Don’t just listen, share it with someone you love.

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Savannah S.

This book was very, very well written. It is thought provoking and insightful while still being entertaining. Even though I can't personally relate to a lot of the struggles portrayed in this novel, I am glad to have read this book and hear different perspectives. The only thing I will agree with another commenter on is the fact that the parents in this novel are a little too perfect of characters, and it almost feels like a missed opportunity for more character depth. But overall, as a whole, this is a great read. Narrator was great, too!

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This book was very different from my usual readings and surprised me that I enjoyed it so much. The content and flow are exceptional, and the author possesses an incredible skill with messaging. Looking forward to reading some of her other works...thanks! Narrator excellent also!

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Susan Rubin E.

Excellent all the way around!!!

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Loved subject matter, touching story about a beautiful family.

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I loved this book. Such a difficult topic with so many questions to be had. It was perfect.

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Patricia V.

Complex and beautiful!

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Lauron P.

One of the most inspiring and moving books I’ve read in a long time. I didn’t want it to end. As a mother, I identified with the struggle between wanting your children to be happy while balancing their need to find their own identities without too much pain.

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Excellent book. Couldn’t stop listening.

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