Thursday, July 3, 2014

Series Review: Bear, Otter, and the Kid 1, 2 & 3 (so far) by T.J. Klune

Bear, Otter, and the Kid (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #1)
by T.J. Klune
Published August 12th 2011 by Dreamspinner Press
Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.
Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world... something or someone.
Who We Are (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #2)
by T.J. Klune
Published April 27th 2012 by Dreamspinner Press 

Sequel to Bear, Otter, and the Kid Bear, Otter, and the Kid survived last summer with their hearts and souls intact. They've moved into the Green Monstrosity, and Bear is finally able to admit his love for the man who saved him from himself. But that's not the end of their story. How could it be? The boys find that life doesn't stop just because they got their happily ever after. There's still the custody battle for the Kid. The return of Otter's parents. A first trip to a gay bar. The Kid goes to therapy, and Mrs. Paquinn decides that Bigfoot is real. Anna and Creed do... well, whatever it is Anna and Creed do. There are newfound jealousies, the return of old enemies, bad poetry, and misanthropic seagulls. And through it all, Bear struggles to understand his mother's abandonment of him and his brother, only to delve deeper into their shared past. What he finds there will alter their lives forever and help him realize what it'll take to become who they're supposed to be. Family is not always defined by blood. It's defined by those who make us whole-those who make us who we are.

The Art of Breathing (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #3)
by T.J. Klune
Published June 16th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press

Tyson Thompson graduated high school at sixteen and left the town of Seafare, Oregon, bound for what he assumed would be bigger and better things. He soon found out the real world has teeth, and he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him. His brother, Bear, and his brother's husband, Otter, believe coming home is exactly what Tyson needs to find himself again. Surrounded by family in the Green Monstrosity, Tyson attempts to put the pieces of his broken life back together.
But shortly after he arrives home, Tyson comes face to face with inevitability in the form of his childhood friend and first love, Dominic Miller, who he hasn't seen since the day he left Seafare. As their paths cross, old wounds reopen, new secrets are revealed, and Tyson discovers there is more to his own story than he was told all those years ago.
In a sea of familiar faces, new friends, and the memories of a mother's devastating choice, Tyson will learn that in order to have any hope for a future, he must fight the ghosts of his past.

My Series Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I think I had the good sense to read this series when all three were all already out and I had the misfortune of having power outages. I took to the first book and fell in love, inhaled the second and grinned myself silly, then broke my heart on the third. The past two days have been a roller coaster ride of emotions coupled with the heat of anticipated storms and ended up dreaming of Bear, Otter and Kid.

Bear, Otter, and the Kid is a story of abandonment, heartbreak, making it out there in the world and learning to accept that not all family are genetically connected. It is a story of survival and enduring strength based on love and acceptance. 

It all begins with Bear. He was handed a bad hand early on in life and ended up having to raise his younger brother, Kid, all by himself. First with his mother around but not much and finally all on his own when said mother disappeared with his savings. He had a girlfriend who was a very good friend, he had a best friend who had a brother and whose parents loved them all. And then there was Mrs. Paquinn. As his world fell apart around him, this non-related family rallied around him and gave him the boost to make it through. It gets complicated when his best friend's brother, Otter, that older and hunky brother, gives him a kiss then disappears for three years. When they reunite, his relationship with this new family is threatened. His love affair with Otter may just be the key to give him that family life he always wanted, but it could also be the same one that would make him loose everybody else, excepting Kid. And what about his girlfriend, Anna?

The second book opens to Bear and Otter raising Kid on their own, but of course the rest of the unrelated family members are all there, ready to lend a helping hand and thought, solicited and unsolicited. Complications had risen with the reappearance of the un-mother so not only are they both stressed from life itself, they have to be stressed out dealing with things like lawyers, therapists, judges (the one sitting and the those who know nothing but everything), and all other things. Bear is nearly losing it, but thanks to Otter and Kid, he does make it. He gets his strength from the two men in his life and no one, not even a sexy teacher ex-anything of Otter can get in his way. Life is as it should be for this incredible three complete with all the panic attacks, hilarious misconceptions and imagery that can be a bit incredible in their lack of logic. All in all a fun book that gives readers that feeling they are reading a fairy tale and the dragon is sure to be slain.

As the third book begins, the point of view shifts and instead of Bear on the forefront, we have Kid. He is a young man now who dares to dream. And to love. We go through his heartaches, his earthquakes and his misconceptions. For all his logic and knowledge, he is truly an immature young man who can fall victim to his own lack of wisdom. We are shown a story of how he slowly matures into that promise we were hinted to in the first two books and we are also shown how his future will look like, especially with Dom and Ben at his side. Is his story parallel to Bear's and Otter's? In some ways it does but mostly it does not. It is Kid's story and it is an incredible journey seeing him grow in so many ways.

Bear, Otter, and the Kid, the series, is a beautiful read, especially the way I read it, back to back. There was no chance of losing track to what was going on and it was truly an incredible journey. If I had read this as they were released, I would probably have been confused and made it a point to read the first two again just to keep track. It is quite a verbose work and can be confusing. Read the way I did, and it is enjoyable, heartbreaking, real and yet fairy tale like and simply a must read. Now I know what the hype was all about. 

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