The Art of BreathingRating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Tyson Thompson is a genius, always has been.  Raised by his brother after their mother abandoned them, Ty has had a hard life.  But through all the scary times, he’s had his make shift family around him to shore him up.  At the age of nine, he met Dominic Miller, a boy six years his senior.  Despite the age difference, Dom was his first real friend.  Dom was quickly brought into the family, and Ty and Dom have always said they were inevitable.  At 16, Ty graduated from high school and embarked on the adventure of heading to college early, even though the last thing he wanted to do is leave Dom behind.  But when he received some truly upsetting and unforeseen news, he cut Dom out of his life.

Four years later, Tyson returns to his home town worse for the wear.  He’s been diagnosed with panic disorder, he’s kicked an addiction, and he’s not sure if he can even go back to school.  This is supposed to be his time to heal.  But the panic still threatens to overtake him.  Especially when he finds out the truth about Dom’s life for the past four years.

Through a series of adventures and panic attacks, the two men slowly being to repair their relationship.  Tyson knows he’s always been in love with Dom, but is convinced that Dom doesn’t love him the same way.  It takes Tyson a long while to see the truth.  But before he can be worthy of Dom’s love, he has to fix himself and learn to stand on his own again.  Only after he faces some difficult hurdles, can he really learn to breathe.

I need to start with the disclaimer that I’m a huge fan of this author and this series.  I’ve been following the journey of Bear, Otter, and Tyson (the Kid) since the very beginning.  I was already invested in these characters, I knew their history, and I was ready and waiting to find out what happened next.  And though the summary above does not do the story justice, not even a little bit, believe me when I tell you that I was not disappointed in the least with this book.  I am also going to tell you that reason for the vagueness in both the summary and review is that there is so much going on, to do anything more would make this review one big spoiler.  I don’t want to do that to you; you need to read it to experience it all for yourself.

This a story of love.  Love for brothers and family.  Love for best friends and for one who has passed.  Love for a man who has been Tyson’s world.  But it is also the story of a young man who is broken and lost.  Tyson has made mistakes, he has screwed up, and he doesn’t know how to fix it.  But he’s on a journey of self-discovery, and eventually, he will get there.  You just know he will.  Because all the pain and hurt, all the second guessing and doubt, it all has to be leading somewhere.  Tyson will not accept anything less.  Even when he’s lost, even when he has to rely on the people around him—his brother especially—to guide him, you know that he’s got the grit and determination to make it.

Klune is an amazing storyteller.  Even though this is Tyson’s story, the characters surrounding him are flush with personality.  If you’ve read the first two books, and really you need to in order for this one to have the same impact, you will know these characters well.  One of the things I love best about this story is the amazing consistency of the characters.  I would know them anywhere, and love them just as much.  This family, made up of blood and friends, is a weirdly wonderful ball of idiosyncrasies that just work together.  Everyone is vitally important.  We revisit people we already know and love, and we get to meet new ones too.  One character that especially stood out is Corey/Kori, Tyson’s bi-gendered ex and current best friend.  He is a truly fantastic character, loyal and true, and confident in himself.  And for those of you who have read Klune’s Tell Me It’s Real, you’ll get to see some familiar faces from that book as well.

This book is long.  It’s drawn out.  It is, at times, a bit meandering, though that makes perfect sense because that’s how Tyson thinks.  There were moments of pure frustration for me, moments where I wanted to lash out at the characters, especially Tyson, and tell them to just talk to one another.  But the amazing thing that Klune did is that when they do have those conversations, it’s because they are ready to have those conversations.  And the impact of that makes it so much more than I thought it could be.  Waiting for the first kiss was, at times, excruciating, but when it finally happened, it was as rewarding for me as it was for Ty and Dom.  Because they were finally ready and it made it all the more worth it.

It’s rare that a book makes me actually laugh out loud (rather than just an amused sort of grin).  It’s rarer still that I actually cry (real tears and not just getting choked up).  This book though?  It had me doing both, repeatedly, and sometimes within just paragraphs of each other.  When words on a page can make you feel those kinds of emotions, you know you have a winner in your hands.

I could go on and on, but nothing I say can even come close to doing this story justice.  The masterful T.J. Klune will break your heart, but he will stitch it together again.  And when you get to the end of the epilogue, and he leaves you hanging on the cliff, he’s kind enough to add a note telling us readers that he’s not quite done with these guys.  That there will be one more, eventually.

If you’ve read Bear, Otter and The Kid and Who We Are, you need to read this book.  If you haven’t, then go get them, read them, and then read this book.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Cover: Paul Richmond has created the absolutely perfect and poignant cover for this story.  I absolutely love it.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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