Review - “Who We Are” by TJ Klune
Worthy and most fine sequel
Very Highly Recommended
Note – If you have not read “Bear, Otter and the Kid”, you need to know there will be references in this review to events in that book. Don't read further, go buy the darn book. Then come back. If not, read on and take your chances...
“What is it about brothers that make us act so much differently than we normally would? Why is there a bond there that doesn't exist anywhere else?”
In BOATK, Derrick (Bear) is left to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson (The Kid) when their mom suddenly leaves with her boyfriend the day before Bear's eighteenth birthday. His girlfriend Anna and his best friend Creed and Creed's older brother Oliver (Otter), along with their families and next door neighbor Mrs. Paquinn support the two brothers as Bear has to give up his college dreams to take care of Ty.
During the course of the book, Bear slowly recognizes his love for Otter is more than friendly, and he and Anna break up over it. Bear and Otter begin a secret relationship, as do Anna and Creed. All hell breaks loose when the boys' mother suddenly shows up and threatens to take The Kid back with her unless Bear stops seeing Otter. Bear panics, breaks up with Otter and all the secrets come barreling out in the aftermath.
Ultimately, the family (because that's what they all are) come together, sans Otter, to help Bear file for custody of The Kid, and just when Bear's about to tell Otter what happened, Otter's old boyfriend shows up unexpectedly and makes a final play for him. Bear freaks out, necessitating another intervention, during which Otter is brought up to speed. Otter takes Bear to an ugly green house and tells him he bought it for him and The Kid, and they are his family now. In the Epilogue, sometime in the not -too-far future, The Kid is coaching Otter on how to propose marriage to Bear.
Got it all? Good, cause now we start “Who We Are”...
...and I really don't want to tell you too much about what happens here, other than to say it starts immediately after Bear and Otter visiting the Green Monstrosity for the first time. The three guys are getting ready for the move, the custody case is still looming, Creed has gone back to school and he and Anna are maybe sorta still dating, Mrs. Paquinn is still babysitting and serving as surrogate Mom/Grandmom to the bunch.
So much happens – The Kid goes back to school and skips a year and we meet his new teacher, who has a link to one of our guys. Bear also goes back to school. There's two new playmates for the boys, one a teen named Dominic and the other a college boy named Isaiah. Otter and Creed's parents come back from volunteer work in Africa and are none-the-wiser about the new relationships their kids are in. The dinner party at Casa Thompson where all the family members come together? Not. To. Be. Missed.
There's a visit to a gay bar, a...I just really can't tell you.
What I can tell you is this...
This book is beautiful. It's about brothers, first and foremost.
It's a love song to the relationship that exists between two guys, and the love that only brothers have for each other. And that love isn't about blood.
It's trust and respect and giving and putting your heart on the line for your guy.
It's crying on each others shoulders and pounding his back with laughter and celebrating life.
It's loving with your heart in your throat and being vulnerable and being scared to death and stepping out there anyway.
It's two guys who share a bond that nobody else can share, and that nobody can break.
And that's what this books is about. It's about Bear and The Kid, and Bear and Otter, and Bear and Creed. How, no matter what else happens, there's a bond of love and care and family that nothing can break.
There's love and death and surprises and confrontations and reunions and tears and laughs (so damned many laughs) and simple joy in this wonderful, open-hearted beauty of a story. And the end? It left me wanting more.
Bear. So much stronger than I thought, but still himself.
Otter. Still the heart of the book, but this time we see him with the blinders off.
The Kid. Still amazing, still the most exasperating, fabulous and breakable boy on the planet.
It's their relationship.
Brothers of the heart.
Set aside a few hours and just...soak it up.