I’ve taken too many creative writing courses and sat in too many writing workshops by now to just appreciate a book from cover to cover. Now, I think about the author and the writing process he or she went through to get this story published. I think about the choices she made for her characters–everything from their mannerisms to their first names.
Roo. Ben. Rigel. Orion. Claude. Poppy.
One of the first questions I asked at my book club meeting after reading “This is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel was where did she come up with those names for the children in the book? And why did she pick one normal name and 5 really unusual ones.
Then, we dove into the meat of the story which is how to raise a child whose is born male, but whose gender is female. And how young is too young to decide that you want to be a boy instead of a girl? And how does a parent both support that child and protect them at the same time in the real world? How does keeping this family secret affect her siblings and what happens when it all comes crashing down?
There were some fascinating themes in this book. Real 21st century issues that I’ve only heard about in passing come to life in this book. It definitely made my own parenting worries seems much smaller than before I picked up this novel.
But, I think the best part of this book had nothing to do with the actual story and everything to do with the way the author told it. The words she used and the way she weaved them together into a compelling family drama captured my writer’s brain and my reader’s heart. Take this sentence that starts off a chapter about halfway through the book.
“Parent time is like fairy time but real. It is magic without pixie dust and spells. It defies physics without bending the laws of time and space. It is that truism that everyone offers but no one believes until after they children: that time will actually speed, fleet enough to leave you jet-lagged and whiplashed and racing all at once.”
Sound familiar? If so, pick up this unforgettable read.