Now, more than ever, the world needs books like This Is How It Always Is, a warm, funny and deeply moving new novel about gender identity, by my good friend Laurie Frankel. The novel tells the story of Claude, the youngest boy in a family of five sons, who, at the age of five, announces that when he grows up he wants to be a girl. Claude’s extraordinary family tries to figure out how best to support their bright, funny and beautiful little boy as he slowly transforms into a bright, funny and beautiful little girl named Poppy, while Poppy tries to grow up in a world that is not quite ready to welcome her.

As has recently become painfully clear, we live in a world that is not ready to welcome many of us, especially those of us who do not conform to its dominant ideological “norms.” Laurie’s book encourages us to look beyond these binary, either/or identities—boy/girl, black/white, us/them—and to embrace and defend the vast all-inclusive spectrum of the in-between, where most of us live.

Laurie writes with great compassion and courage, not to mention great humor! She is an inspiration. We all need friends like her. So read this book. Be inspired. Take back the world.