Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5 stars
Received from Publisher
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: The Long and Winding Road is the fourth, and final, book in the Bear, Otter, and the Kid series. I would strongly recommend reading this series in order to avoid spoilers. Also, a lot has happened to these characters, and doing enough of a recap to catch new readers up to speed would be novella length on its own, even with Part 1 to an extent serving some of that purpose.
This series has made me feel so many things throughout its protagonists’ four book journey. It has been one of laughter, tears, heartache, joy and amazement (that one mostly from the things that go through Bear’s brain – and more often than not, out of his mouth as well – not to mention the Kid’s interesting attempts at poetry!). I have come to love these characters and the family they have collected around them. This final book is so bittersweet for me. It is the perfect goodbye, beautifully done, but I don’t really want to say goodbye to people that I adore so much. I stretched out the reading of this book, unwilling and a little unprepared to let them go just yet. It is time, though. Their most tumultuous experiences are behind them, their struggles to find who they are are over. Sure, there will still be ups and downs in their lives; life is a rollercoaster, after all. But they are older, mostly wiser and there is no doubt by now that they will face any little obstacles that get in their way, strong and confident in their love and ability to weather them together.
The Long and Winding Road opens in the present, giving the reader a glimpse of how they are immediately after the events of the The Art of Breathing, before Part 1 takes us back to reflect on where they have come from and how the road they have taken has brought them to be who they are. I was a little concerned that I’d get a bit bored essentially re-reading events that I already had read about in the previous books. It really wasn’t like that at all. Even though Part 1 basically covers past events, mostly from The Art of Breathing, it doesn’t in any way feel like just re-hashing old stuff. It was good as a reminder of the important things that had happened, but it still felt fresh to read, with a different perspective and different experiences of those events giving some further insight into them.
Part 2 brings us back to the present. This book shows some ups and downs in the lives of Bear and Otter, but they aren’t tortured like they were in the other books. The level of angst is definitely taken down several notches. They have such a strong relationship, but with life being what it is, it can’t all be smooth sailing. Stress builds. Fights happen. Stupid, hurtful things get said, but nothing devolves into “the big misunderstanding”. This all felt very real-life to me. I love how much they love each other. No matter what else may be going on around them, what they’re dealing with, or what they’re feeling, that is the one sure thing they both know.
Lastly, Part 3 is about the future. We part from Bear, Otter, The Kid, Dominic and the rest of their family to continue on their way, happy and content. It’s the heartfelt hug goodbye. I had forgotten just how much these characters grab a hold and don’t let go. How much they make me laugh and cry and smile and my heart ache for them. I am going to miss the hell out of each and every one them. I’m going to miss their trials and tribulations and the all encompassing love this crazy, amazing, wonderful family have for each other. It was sad to close the book at the end, but it was also an absolute joy to read.