I am kind of kicking my own butt over how long it took me to actually pick this series up and read it. I’ll say straight up that my reasons for not doing so look pretty stupid at this point, but they seemed valid at the time.
The first time I saw this, I had yet to read anything by TJ Klune and I was extremely hesitant to buy an unknown that I knew would mean needing to buy them all since it is a series following the same characters, that these books are not stand alone. And buying was the only option I had at the time as it wasn’t in the library or offered through Kindle Unlimited. I just wasn’t sure I was going to like it and it seemed like too big a risk when I had other books I knew I was going to like.
One of the things that gave me pause, and here is one of those “That is kinda stupid” things, was the original cover for the books (at least the first two). I’m apparently a cover art snob, but this brought home to me just how much. For this, the cover felt… childish? Not the art, exactly, but the tone or feel the art set just didn’t work for me. I understand now, that for me, the original art made the book feel like it was more of a children’s book rather than an adult romance. It just didn’t feel like it actually fit and gave me the impression of a lack of skill or immaturity that would potentially translate to poor writing (again, this is the weird way my brain apparently works with cover art and has actually proven accurate in many cases), so I kept avoiding them.
That is so NOT the case with this series and is proof that you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Even AFTER I had read several other books by TJ Klune that cover a broader range of sub-genres, all within that LGBT/MM range, and LOVED every single one, it still took way too long to convince me to pick these up. Again, I’m apparently stupidly weird sometimes.
Anyway… I got over myself and finally picked up the first in the series when I saw it available in my library. Oh, and hey! Look! A new cover design that works with the genre. It took less than a chapter and I was out buying the whole series. Because this is an AMAZING series and I know only reading it once isn’t going to be enough.
At its core, this is a series about family. Yes it is a male/male romance, but this is really more about family dynamics, what it takes to be a family, what it takes to make a family, whether they are by blood or by choice, the damage family can do when it becomes toxic and ugly, and what its like when it is amazing. It is about being screwed up but still moving and not letting that stop you. This series managed to hit on pretty much every single thing I love about a really good book.
That is kind of TJ Klune’s super power, though. Everything that I have read so far is this incredible blend that makes everything he writes feel real. All of his characters are so incredibly human and flawed and wonderful, often sprinkled with a megaton of snark and humor. This series brings the full gamut of human emotions to the table. I laughed to the point where both Hubby and the kids looked at me like I’d finally launched myself fully into crazy land. I cried. I wanted to smack someone on one page and hug them on the next. It made me feel and fall in love with every character.
I finished the first book and was so anxious to read the next, I figured I’d write the review of it later, but next thing I know, I’m mid-way through book three and the lines between them have blurred just enough that I can’t separate them out and decided to just write about them as a whole.
The Bear, Otter, and the Kid series consists of four books.
All are told from Bear’s perspective except The Art of Breathing. That one is told from the Kid’s perspective.
This series has pretty much cemented TJ Klune into one of my favorite authors category and not just a favorite in the genre. There are so very few that I’m willing to buy their books just because their name is on the cover as too many authors are hit or miss in their writing. Reading this series (finally!), has shoved him right into that very small club. He is the only one that isn’t strictly a fantasy genre author, though he does write some crazy amazing in that genre as well.