Title: The Long and Winding Road (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #4)
Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 11th 2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 346 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
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.
Do you remember how it all began?
The Long and Winding Road is broken up into three parts: Past, Present, and Future. The Past is a lovingly done recap of the series, including explaining the events that lead up to The Art of Breathing.
While Bear and Otter are the focus of this story, and it’s from Bear’s (often hilarious) point of view, you must remember Bear and Otter would not be “Bear and Otter” without their family. Without Tyson (the Kid), Mrs. P., Creed, Anna, and Dom. They’re all here. Maybe only in memory and in the heart, but always there.
Just like the love Bear and Otter have for one another.
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.
I’ve got this.
Whatever might come, I’ve got this.
Because he’s by my side.
“I am going to love you forever,” he says quietly. “Because that’s what I want. And if you want to do all of this, all this elaborate whatever, then that’s what we’ll do. Or if you just want to stay at home and make out on the couch, we can do that too. What you want is important to me, Bear. And you can tell me, always. I know it can be tough sometimes, and you’ll probably piss me off, or I’ll make you mad, but we’re a team, okay? Never forget that. We’re a team, and no matter what happens, I’m always going to have your back. For everything.”
And we fit. We always have, even before we were us. There was something there, something arcing between us like lightning, always crawling along our skin. Maybe we didn’t know how to name it, didn’t know just how far it could go, but we knew. And we pushed and pulled, clawing our way to each other.
But we fit. Just like we do now.
God, how it turns on a fucking dime.
And it can surprise the hell out of you.
There is a lot packed into this but it never feels like the words were written as filler. Every part, every conversation, every meltdown all felt organic and necessary to the story.
We have lived. We have lost. We have loved with every single beat of our hearts, and we have fucking earned this.
There’s humor here, because of course there is, this is TJ Klune after all.
“I don’t know that you have a subtle bone in your body.” He pauses, considering. “Well, except for when I’m inside of—”
“Unless you plan to do something about it right now, you better not even finish that. Seriously, Otter. What the hell.”
He waggles his eyebrows at me.
He’s such an asshole. I’m the luckiest man in the world.
There were a lot of happy tears. A lot of sighing. A lot of wondering how it is possible that these characters that I have loved for years still feel fresh and new and a vital part of me.
A thousand other moments. All the bits and pieces that make up a life.
We have lived. We have lived through so much.
We have made this life our own, this strange family of ours.
Because family isn’t always defined by blood.
It’s defined by those who make us whole.
Those who make us who we are.
The story meanders a little, like life does. We get glimpses into everyone – how they are, how they will be – and I loved every single minute of it.
Maybe one day we’ll meet again.
But even if we don’t, remember this:
We have lived.
We have loved.
We have lost.
But we’re standing. For all that we are, we’re still standing.
I’ll admit, I was a little worried when I heard this would be TJ’s last time visiting this odd, wonderful, funny, crazy, awesome family. I worried that this story might not live up to the love I have in my heart for these characters. I may have worried a little – but I never once doubted. TJ rocked this. He came through and brought this absolutely beautiful story to life.
I LOVED THIS. I cried, I laughed, and my heart was so full of love for these characters and these stories. TJ does not let fans of this series down: he doesn’t rip your heart out (too) much, and what he does bruise he absolutely makes all better by the end. Make no mistake, this is a love letter to the characters and to those of us who love them so much.
I 100% recommend this story – but I strongly encourage you to read the other books in the series first. In my opinion, this should not be read as a standalone.