Title: The Long and Winding Road
Series: Bear, Otter and the Kid Chronicles 04
Author: T.J. Klune
Narrator: Sean Crisden
Length: 10 hrs, 23 mins
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (19th December 2017)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts
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: OK, so two things: First off, TJ Klune is amazingly awesome and I love and adore anything he does, no matter how much the man makes me cry, like ugly cry so bad and I never learn my lesson and this almost always happens either on a train or a plane. The second thing is that I absolutely adore this series, Bear, Otter and the Kid was the first TJ Klune book and I have enjoyed (and laughed and cried) as I followed all the books to this one, book four which is the final book in the series.
If you’ve not read the previous books in the series, you need to read them before getting onto this book. If you’ve not been read the previous books and picked up this one, what rock have you been living under? Or I am just so obsessed (official Klunatic here) that I’m living under my own rock.
Sean Crisden has leant his voice to this series and has done an amazing job. In fact, the only book in this series he didn’t narrate was book 2. He has nailed each character, with all their quirkiness and fun intact, and essentially matches with my mental “audio images” I had imagined as I had read the actual books. I love the tone he has brought to the story and also added personality he injected into the story with just his voice. Honestly, in short, Crisden provided a solid narration.
This series is a story about life, because a lot of unpredictable shit happens – especially to poor old Bear. It celebrates the family that you create with the people that you surround yourself with. It is about finding happiness, finding a way to be able to breathe again and moving on from the horrible shit to embrace what could become great happiness.
The Long and Winding Road leaves off where the Art of Breathing finished. But it also picks up from books 1 and 2. Look, it’s kinda complicated. Books 1 and 2 are about Bear and Otter. Then in book 3, The Art of Breathing, its about The Kid (Ty). Now in book 4, we are back to Bear and Otter being the central characters. With the exception the epilogues, which is written from Otter’s POV, the three books following Bear and Otter, are told from Bear’s POV.
Bear McKenna has survived the years raising his little brother after his mother split when Ty was 6 and after some initial dramas (starting in book 1) he has fallen in love with his best friend’s older brother, Otter. The pair have navigated life together, not only having the ups and downs of their own relationship, but the issues that come with raising a mentally damaged child prodigy (who happens to be a vegan terrorist). Now that Ty has grown up, Bear knows that despite expecting something bad to happen that will take away his happiness, he will do anything to make Otter happy. And part of that is having kids of their own via a surrogate. Except Bear’s mother who abandoned him and Ty has now died, and now Bear has a twelve year old sister who needs him just as Tyson had once needed him. Bear sees the parallels between his two younger siblings, and it is heartbreaking at times. However, Bear never questions what he has to do and Otter is there to support him 100%.
Bear and Ty are both mentally damaged because of their mother’s abandonment. They need a lot of help and support and the nature of this kind of things means that there are a lot of times where things aren’t easy for the brothers.
This story ties up all that has been happening and brings up to conclude probably about twenty years of a full life lived. There is a lot of flashback to things from Bear’s POV that were covered in The Art of Breathing, as well as flashbacks to other times in the first two books. There is particularly a lot said about perhaps the most important scene in this whole series, when Bear remembers the letter that his mother left when she abandoned both boys, two days before Bear graduated high school and changed his life (and plans) forever. Yes, there was a lot of heartache, especially as Bear has his flashbacks. There is a wonderful and zany cast of characters – Otter’s and Bear’s family – who we’ve known from the start. Creed – Bear’s best friend and Otter’s brother – has a hilarious dislike for hipsters (a great Easter egg for those that love How to Be A Normal Person by Klune). Creed’s wife, Anna, is Bear’s ex, who he was with before Otter came back on the scene and she is a total fire cracker, a pretty amazing lady. Tyson, the Kid, has gotten himself back on track, finished college and has found his man and has learnt to breathe. Another great Easter egg is fans of Klune’s At First Sight series (starting with Tell Me It’s Real) is the appearance of Kori/Corey as one of Ty’s best friends. Kori/Corey is also a friend of Paul and Vince in At First Sight and they will have their own story next year, I believe. We are teased with the beginning of that story and the moment fans of both series no doubt wanted to see – Bear meeting Vince, if only on Skype and only to see the two most neurotic characters come together in a clash of fabulousness and craziness.
I feel I can’t bring justice to this book in my words. It is so much more complicated because we are talking about the lives of Bear and Otter, but also that of at least five other people, plus the people that were lost along the way. I loved the book, from start to finish and I made so much Wookie cry face as I tried to hold back the tears, only to full on ugly cry. This was a wonderfully satisfying ending to this series. As much as I hate the idea of no more adventures from Bear and Otter, all good things must come to an end and this was absolutely perfect.