Title: The Long and Winding Road (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles: Book Four)
Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 346 Pages
At a Glance: I can’t imagine how hard it was for TJ Klune to say goodbye to these guys. I feel so lucky to have Bear, Otter and the Kid, as well as all the rest of them, in my heart forever.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.
And here, at the end, Bear and Otter will be tested like they’ve never been before.
There’s a knock at the door from a little girl who has nowhere else to go.
There’s a phone ringing, bringing news they do not expect.
There’s a brother returning home after learning how to stand on his own.
As these moments converge, all of their lives will change forever.
Beginning in Bear, Otter, and the Kid and continuing in Who We Are and The Art of Breathing, TJ Klune has told a saga of family and brotherhood, of love and sacrifice. In this final chapter, the events of the past pave the long and winding road toward a future no one could have imagined.
Review: “Life can turn on a dime.
But if you’ve got someone at your side, someone who holds you up when your knees go weak, someone who kisses you every time like it’s the first time, there’s a chance you’ll make it. – TJ Klune
I want to start by saying that I’m completely in awe of this series. Of these characters and this family that TJ Klune has created. Of the way that he, as an author, is able to immediately grab a reader’s attention, and essentially hold it for fourteen hundred pages, like he did with me this past week. Because, confession time… I just read Bear, Otter, and the Kid, as well as Who We Are, and The Art of Breathing for the first time, in preparation for the release of The Long and Winding Road. I know…I know what you’re going to ask…How have I not read these books yet? I dunno. But, I’m SO damn glad that I’ve read them now. This series is absolutely fantastic, and Klune has delivered a finale that should satisfy every single fan of these beloved characters and this epic family saga.
I’m obviously going to focus on The Long and Winding Road here, but I think it’s impossible to review this final book without touching on the series as a whole. At least, that’s definitely going to be the case for me, since having just read it in its entirety, it feels so much like one entity in my mind.
The Long and Winding Road—that title is so much perfection, by the way—starts out where The Art of Breathing left us. Complete and utter chaos is unfolding at The Green Monstrosity, as per usual, and we’re back in Bear’s head. Bear and Tyson’s little sister, Izzie, is at the door, Ty is expected shortly for his surprise welcome home party, and Otter has just taken the phone call from their surrogate, Megan, telling him they’re having twins. Chaos, right? After the prologue, though, instead of diving right back into the story, Klune backtracks a bit and takes us out of Seafare, and back to New Hampshire, where things started to get rocky for the Kid. I had mixed feelings about this format at first. There was a lot of re-covering of ground in the first third or so of the book. Granted, it was nice to have Bear’s perspective, on Ty’s addiction in particular, but I did find myself pretty anxious to get caught up to present day. I’m sure that’s a direct product of having read the books back-to-back-to-back. If I had been waiting three years for this final book, as so many have been, I’m sure I would have felt differently about the recap. Which, wasn’t technically a recap, since it was a different POV and was covered in much greater detail, but I think you see my point.
My minor bout of impatience to ‘get to it’ aside, I did so much appreciate the background story on everything that happened before that phone call from Megan at the end of The Art of Breathing. The heart of the story in this last book is Bear and Otter’s decision to have a child, and how all of that unfolds. So, it was important to look back and see how each of them came to the place of wanting to be a father. Bear’s journey being a little—ok, a lot—more roundabout and, well, Bear-like, of course, than Otter’s. God, I love him. And, bless Otter for not only putting up with him but for seeing the amazing strength beneath all the neuroses. And, for finding his ridiculousness to be somehow endearing. Ha! This line killllllled me:
Myspace. Twattering. Jesus Christ. It’s like you’re twenty-eight and eighty all at the same time.
There are so many hilarious lines/moments/situations, as we’ve come to expect from a TJ Klune book. AND, as we’ve also come to expect from a TJ Klune book, there are several times where you’ll find yourself reaching for the tissues. The perfect blend of humor and immense feels.
I loved seeing the growth of all the characters in this book (Ok—maybe not Creed. Hahaha. I kid…I kid…Even Creed grows up eventually. Sort of.), but especially Bear. He really comes into himself in this story, and starts to really see his own self-worth. We’ve always seen him fight tooth and nail for his family, for what Tyson needs, but here he finally realizes that it’s ok for him to want something for himself, independent of how the Kid or anyone else might feel about it.
And, Otter…Guhhhhhhh…How I love him. He’s unbelievably amazing and steadfast. Everyone knows they can count on Otter. Period. He’s not perfect, or immune to saying things he wishes he could immediately take back, like when he unintentionally hurts Izzie’s feelings with his words, but he’s loyal and he loves his family with a fierceness that’s all too rare. And, Bear and Otter’s love for each other… My godddddd…so much swoon. I loved this:
Sometimes I thought Otter was our reward for all the crap that had been slung on me and the Kid in our short, complicated lives. And if he was, he was the best thing I could have ever asked for.
Guys, I could go on and on. Klune wraps everything up so beautifully. We of course get to see the entire family, and fall even more in love with them as they further cement their places in each other’s lives. Anna and Creed are still fighting for their relationship and expanding their family; Ty and Dom are solid and so wonderful together; Izzie is finding how she fits in; and Mrs. Paquinn, even though she’s no longer with them in body, is still the thread that holds it all together.
I can’t imagine how hard it was for TJ Klune to say goodbye to these guys. I feel so lucky to have Bear, Otter and the Kid, as well as all the rest of them, in my heart forever. If you are a goofball like I was, and haven’t read this series yet, do yourself a favor and pick them up today. Reading it straight through was a showcase for how much Klune has grown as an author. He has come so far with his craft since that first book…where it all began… The Long and Winding Road is a testament to that growth, and what an amazing writer and storyteller he is.
You can buy The Long and Winding Road here: