Book Reviews

The Art of Breathing (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles 3) by TJ Klune at BOATK Books

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Drama
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 08-November-2019

Book Blurb

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.



First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2014.


Book Review

It seems almost impossible to me that I'm finally cracking open the third book in TJ Klune's intensely emotional and heartwarming series, 'Bear, Otter, and The Kid'. What's even more astounding to my mind is the opportunity now to get to know the Kid, Tyson, as an adult and to discover his personality all over again. I already know that this won't be an easy book to read, that it's going to be an impassioned story that will, most likely, cut me off at the knees more than once. That isn't going to stop me from reading it, however. If TJ could write it with all of the turmoil and upheaval which occurred in his and his beloved's life, then I can put on my big girl panties, read it, and cherish every single moment!

"No. No. No.
All I need to do is breathe.
Just breathe.
In. Hold for three seconds.
I don't want to go to the bathtub today.
Out. Hold for three seconds.
There are no earthquakes. I do not shake.
In. Hold for three seconds.
I am not having a panic attack. I am above it.
Out. Hold for three seconds.
Everything is fine. Everything is fine."

It was so easy in the first two books to view Tyson as this confident, genius, young boy who was strong inside. Even though he got afraid and the earthquakes came and he and Bear would sit in the bathtub until they stopped, I always viewed that as normal because of his life up until then. It was easy to forget that Tyson always described himself as "I'm just a little guy", and it was only now, when reading Tyson's story, that I realized he wasn't always talking about physically. And that's who he is when Tyson comes home again after four years away, disillusioned, depressed, still suffering panic attacks, and trying to figure out what he needs from life and how to be strong enough to get it.

"Some things, no matter how much we wish, no matter how much we hope, no matter how much we beg for them in our secret hearts, are not meant to be.
I am here to say good-bye.
Nothing more."

I suppose I really need to mention Dominic since he's the reason Tyson hasn't been home in four years. Tyson was nine and Dominic was fifteen when they first met after Bear, Otter, and the Kid moved into the Green Monstrosity. Tyson and Dom were inseparable and best friends who shared everything, although Dom waited until Tyson was thirteen before telling him why Dom didn't have any parents and lived in foster care. Tyson was almost sixteen when he realized he was gay and in love with his best friend. Leaving home to go to college, even though Bear and Otter were coming with him, was so painful for Tyson because he was leaving Dom, too. Tyson needed Dom…Dom was his. Three months after Tyson left for college, when he got a wedding announcement in the mail for Dom and this girl who was just supposed to be a phase, Tyson spiraled downhill and has not spoken to or seen Dom since that day.

Now Tyson is back in Seafare, with Bear and Otter, and Tyson's bigender, best friend, ex-boyfriend, and ex-girlfriend, Corey/Kori, and it's past time to own up to his mistakes in shutting Dom out and in being so selfish. Of course, Corey/Kori (whom I loved), had a lot to do with knocking some sense into Tyson's head. The road trip that Corey/Kori manipulated Dom into taking with him and Tyson to Tucson, where Corey/Kori happens to be from, was hysterical as some old favorites, namely Helena Handbasket, Paul, and Vince made an appearance and brought much humor into the setting. Tyson thought his family was weird until he had Saturday morning brunch with Helena, Kori, Paul, Vince, Darren, and Paul's two legged dog, Wheels. *snort*

"And you can trust me when I say I'm going to fight like hell. Because no matter where you've been or how long it's taken you to come home, we've always been inevitable, and that will never change."

I'm reading over what I've written and I realize how inadequate it all sounds. It's impossible for me to even remotely express all of the emotions that I experienced while reading 'The Art of Breathing'. I cried for Tyson, I was proud of him, I laughed with Bear, Otter, Creed, Anna, and the Kid, and my heart bled for this beautiful young man who had to grow up way too soon, who never got to be a kid, who hid his fear behind an adult mask on a child's face, and I rejoiced when Dominic and Tyson both looked and really saw.

I have no more words for the impact this book has had on me. TJ, you're an incredible man, and if I knew nothing about you except what you've written in these three books, then I would know this: you know the true meaning of love and that's a rare gift, indeed.

"I breathe for him. I breathe for me. I breathe for the years we've lost, and the future we might have, uncertain though it might be.
But most of all, I just breathe."





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 387 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 01-November-2019
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link