the long and winding roadRating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel

The Long and Winding Road is the fourth and final book in the Bear, Otter, and The Kid Chronicles, and as such, absolutely must be read in order. There will also be spoilers for previous books in this review.

Bear and Otter Thompson’s life is about to change again. They are thrilled, and as usual, life happens in ways they don’t expect. Nothing goes smoothly, issues arise, and bumps appear in the road. But as always, they rise to the challenge, even when the weight seems too heavy.

But first, Bear goes back to the beginning. He remembers how this all started, when his mother left Tyson in his care and disappeared. He thinks about Ty, and the hard truths about Ty’s addiction, and how they came back to the coastal Oregon town of Seafare to start their lives again. He’s reminded of the strength they all have, and everything they’ve come through in order to get to this point in their lives.

Bear and Otter are as in love as they’ve ever been, and they are ready to share that love with a child of their own. Or children, as the surprise case may be. As they prepare to become parents, they struggle through ups and downs. But their love is strong, and even if they hit rough patches, they know they’ll get through it. Life hasn’t been easy for any of them, but especially not for Bear and Ty. But everything has been leading them to this point. It’s been a long and winding road, but they’ve finally reached the end.

I’ve been following the journey of Bear, Otter and the Kid since the very beginning, and I was anxious about reading this book. I knew it would be goodbye when I got to the end. Goodbye to this weird and zany family Bear and Otter have created. Let me tell you first that from the moment this book started, I was right back with them, enmeshed in their wonderful, weird lives. And ready to see how their story ends.

Set up in three parts, the book takes us from the past, to the present, and then into the future. And as a bonus, we get to see Otter’s perspective in the epilogue, which I really enjoyed. As I said in my vague-on-purpose synopsis, it begins with a reminder of how this journey began, and through the events of how this family came home to Seafare. This is not a retelling of the first three books, but rather a look back on events we did not see. And then we see how Bear and Otter are coping with the prospect of being parents, Ty’s reaction, and the way they all deal with all the fears and worries. How they are making their relationship work. And then we get to see the future, so we know, without a doubt, that this family will all get their happily ever after.

There’s so much growth throughout this series. And in this last book, we get to see all the hard times pay off. With each successive story, the characters have grown, and hurt and healed, and loved harder than any other fictional characters I’ve ever read. It’s hard not to adore these characters, from the MCs to all the secondary characters. There’s a realness to them that just can’t be explained.

Bear is still his rambling self, the man who gets caught up in his own mind and thinks the strangest things. But he’s grown up a lot, and it’s easy to see. He’s so strong, so committed to his family, to Otter, that even when he’s freaking out and just being, well, Bear, there’s a solidness to him there wasn’t before. Otter is the selfless rock he’s always been, but if it’s possible, even more so. He’s not perfect. He has flaws and makes mistakes. And throughout the series, Otter has put his own wants on the backburner and bent over backward to give Bear and Ty the things they needed. But in this book, Bear is finally ready to give Otter what Otter needs. And there is something serendipitously beautiful about that. The two of them together are magical.

What I particularly loved about this book is that feels like a final chapter to their story. It was, indeed, a perfect ending to a well-crafted and amazing story. It’s their last step on the way to happy and fulfilling lives. Klune is a master storyteller, and he draws the reader in. Each character is immediately recognizable, while also having changed and grown as the years have gone on.

I laughed. I got choked up. It’s hard not to when characters so near and dear to my heart finally get the good things they’ve deserved all along. And I know my review doesn’t do the book justice. So let me finish with this: This series is full of heartbreak and hope. Worries and fears. Hurt and comfort. And most of all, love. And this book is a beautiful, heartfelt way of saying goodbye and knowing that these characters lived happy lives. Finally.

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

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