The Art of Breathing (Bear, Otter, and the Kid Chronicles) - T.J. Klune
I have been a fan girl of epic proportions since the very first book in this series came out almost three years ago. I fell in love with the neuroses that is the Thompson-McKenna household. I think, like most of the other people who love this series, I have had a deep abiding love for the complete mess that was Tyson McKenna (now Tyson Thompson). Witnessing him grow up in the first two stories, however, didn’t prepare me for the nineteen year old I met in this book.

Now, if you think you are going to cry when you read this book, I only have one thing to say to you: get your Kleenex, lots and lots of Kleenex. I got a little misty-eyed while reading the dedication, and that was definitely not the last time. This isn’t a sad story, though, I promise. At times it is hard to read, but there were a lot of things that needed to be covered even though they hurt.

The story begins with a nine year old Kid being the Kid. We finally get to see the very first meeting of Tyson and Dominic, and it is everything I ever thought it should be. Then we fast forward six years to a fifteen year old Tyson. There is a birthday party, a heartbreak, a graduation and most of all, Tyson makes a big decision that changes the course of his young life.

After a fifteen year old Tyson gives the mother of all valedictorian speeches, there is very little time before Bear, Otter and the Kid leave Seafare to start a new chapter in Tyson’s life at Dartmouth. Now, don’t worry about the Green Monstrosity; they aren’t moving permanently. There will be visits during school breaks and holidays and such, at least that was the plan.

Not long after arriving in New Hampshire, the bottom falls out of Tyson’s world. The following four years are very difficult for our Tyson. The earthquakes are coming more often, the bathtub sees more use than it has in years, and he finds out he has a panic disorder. This leads to an addiction he has to fight hard to overcome and a rift in one of the most important relationships he has ever had.

When he finally does return to Seafare, with his best friend Cory in tow, he realizes that it is both the same and yet different after his four year absence. His heartbreak has kept him from home but when he sees the Green Monstrosity again, he finally begins to feel somewhat settled.

The best part of Ty’s return home is that we get to spend time with the entire gang again. Creed is definitely still Creed, Anna is happily suffering through their marriage, and JJ is a nine year old version of Creed—use your imagination with that one. There are many shenanigans, and yes, there is another Bear meltdown at dinner that will have you snorting, so no drinking while you read that scene, fair warning.

So, you have probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned Dominic much. That is because he was pretty much the reason Ty stayed away from Seafare for four years. The first time Ty sees him, it isn’t under the best of circumstances, but it is so very Ty. After a few starts and stops and some major pushing from Cory and his family, Tyson realizes if he wants his friend back he is going to have to work for it.

The turning point of the book happens while Ty, Cory, and Dominic are on a road trip to Arizona. Oh, and there may be a few cameo appearances from a certain drag queen that we know and love, along with her best friend and a foul mouthed parrot.

Ty and Dominic finally find themselves on the same page but no matter how much this is something Ty has always wanted, he also realizes that he is going to have to deal with his issues if he wants it to last.

As I said in the beginning of this, I am a huge fan of this series. As much as I have loved seeing Bear and Otter’s love story unfold in the first two books, this glimpse into the mind of Tyson was the most riveting of the series, by far. As messed up as I thought Bear was, it was nothing compared to the mess that was going on in Tyson’s head. This young man had to deal with rejection from a young age and even though he had more love around him than some others did, he wasn’t able to get over it easily. Add to that the death of Mrs. P. in Who We Are, and it was no wonder that he didn’t trust people to stay.

I truly enjoyed experiencing the ups and downs with all of our favorite characters. Even though my heart broke a little for Tyson and Dominic at times, TJ Klune did a wonderful job of putting the pieces back together again for me. Tyson may not be one hundred percent healed at the end of this story, but he is well on his way, and I can’t wait to see what is up next for this crazy cast of characters. As usual the epilogue of this book sets us up wonderfully for what Mr. Klune has stated will be the final book of the series.

I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

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