31 days of diverse books {5}

Today’s book is an adult fiction selection about a family with a transgender child. And it’s a GOOD one.

A transgender person is someone whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. As of 2016, about 1.4 million adults in the U.S. identify as transgender. As you can imagine, with all the stigma surrounding it, life as a trans person is not easy.

In the past couple years, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about people who are transgender, the struggles and challenges they (and their families) face and how we (especially Christians) can love them as our neighbors, as we love ourselves.

I’ve read lots of books (some really good, some just okay), but This Is How It Always Is is, hands-down, my favorite.

The writing is brilliant. BRILLIANT. And the story is so real, so touching. It’s not cliche, it’s not “agenda-pushing,” it’s just plain wonderful writing and a great story.

It starts out with something really sad, then a sweet and unlikely love story, then a surprising five children, each with a personality that completely comes to life.

The book is very loosely based on the author’s real life. “It’s true that my child used to be a little boy and is now a little girl. But this isn’t her story.”

As a writer and a mom, I love how she describes the differences between the book and her life:

“One of the differences between your novel and your life, at least as it regards parenting, is you want the former to be perilous, unpredictable, full of near misses and heartbreak and disasters narrowly averted. The latter? The latter you want to be as plot-free as possible…

I wish for my child, for all our children, a world where they can be who they are and become their most loved, blessed, appreciated selves… I want more options, more paths through the woods, wider ranges of normal, and unconditional love. Who doesn’t want that?

I know this book will be controversial, but honestly? I keep forgetting why.”

I highlighted all kinds of quotes on my Kindle (and I rarely bother highlighting fiction), but each one I start to share, I stop, because it kind of gives part of the story away.

So I’ll share this one. A convo between Claude and his mom.

“Sweetheart, you cannot wear that dress to preschool.”

“Why not? Josie wears a dress to preschool. Taya and Pia and Annlee wear dresses to preschool.”

“Is that why you want to wear a dress? Because all your friends wear dresses?”

“I guess,” Claude guessed. “And tights.”

“Well. Usually boys don’t wear dresses to preschool,” Rosie admitted carefully. “Or tights.”

“I’m not usually,” said Claude. This, Rosie, reflected, even at the time, was true.

And this conversation between Rosie and her mom, Carmelo, who bought 5yo Claude the bikini he begged for:

“He’s happy,” said Carmelo, as if that settled it, as if it were just that simple. “Happy, healthy, and fabulous. What more could you ask?”

“Other kids will make fun of him.”

“What kids?” said Carmelo.

“I don’t know. Kids.”

“Kids don’t care about stuff like that anymore.”

“They don’t?”

“No. And why do you?”

“You do realize,” Rosie turned to her mother, “that I’m supposed to be calming you down about all of this, not the other way around. I’m the one who’s supposed to be talking you off the ledge… you’re too old to be open-minded and tolerant.”

“I’m too old not to be.” She sucked coolly on her cigarette again, then waved it at Rosie to punctuate her point. Not for the first time, Rosie envied smokers their rhetorical device. “I’ve lived life. I know what’s important. I’ve seen it all by now. You think he’s the first boy I ever saw in a bikini? He’s not. You think your generation invented kids who are different?”

Can’t recommend this book enough. Gorgeously written and so relatable, about a family who faces the kinds of challenges we all face, and some we don’t.

Have you read any books written by/about transgender kiddos/adults?

(All links are Amazon Associate links.)

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Books by/about refugees.
Day 3: Books about race & faith.
Day 4: Books about race & faith, cont’d.

2 thoughts on “31 days of diverse books {5}

  1. Lisa notes

    “George” is the only book I’ve read about transgender people; I learned a lot from it. I just got the sample sent to my Kindle of the book you’ve mentioned. It sounds so enlightening. I agree that we need to read and learn and grow. I’m enjoying your 31 Days series!

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