Title: Who We Are
Author: TJ Klune
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Buy Link:Who We Are
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 350 pages
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: A continuation of these unforgettable characters’ story that often stretched my belief but still grabbed my interest.
Sequel to Bear,Otter and the Kid
Bear, Otter, and the Kid survived last summer with their hearts and souls intact. They’ve moved into the Green Monstrosity, and Bear is finally able to admit his love for the man who saved him from himself.
But that’s not the end of their story. How could it be?
The boys find that life doesn’t stop just because they got their happily ever after. There’s still the custody battle for the Kid. The return of Otter’s parents. A first trip to a gay bar. The Kid goes to therapy, and Mrs. Paquinn decides that Bigfoot is real. Anna and Creed do… well, whatever it is Anna and Creed do. There are newfound jealousies, the return of old enemies, bad poetry, and misanthropic seagulls. And through it all, Bear struggles to understand his mother’s abandonment of him and his brother, only to delve deeper into their shared past. What he finds there will alter their lives forever and help him realize what it’ll take to become who they’re supposed to be.
Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.
I had mixed reactions to this sequel, but in the main I found it less successful over all than the first book. There is an unevenness to the book’s tone which jarred with me. This came essentially from a feeling that parts of this book were almost an exaggerated caricature of the original. I was carried away by what I felt was the youthful excess of that work. Here it felt more contrived. There was also a certain amount of retrospective explanation that I didn’t need or actually believe. I preferred leaving it with life being strangely random – especially in TJ Klune’s imagination.
Having made that criticism, there were things I really enjoyed. There are some great set pieces that felt just right as the characters faced this next stage together. Bear going to college and exploring his reactions to men, which had previously been unrealised perhaps because of his fragile hand to mouth life, was good clean fun. Bear and Otter’s attempt to go gay clubbing was emotionally extravagant but super enjoyable. Bear and Anna reconnecting emotionally was a lovely moment. I enjoyed some of Tyson’s antics and really appreciated his new friendship with Dominic. I also found Bear and Otter’s reactions to that relationship realistic and without the excesses of emotion that overplayed much of this book.
If a book has strong vital characters I love, I will excuse a book a fair amount of less effective attributes. Bear, Otter and the Kid won over the less than believable plotting in the first book. This time round even their charms couldn’t hide the the heavy burden of unbelievable coincidence from me. Although emotionally invested in the hugely melodramatic synchronised finale of the book, I didn’t really believe a word of it. Moreover even while I enjoyed Otter’s later years epilogue, Tyson’s interesting revelation didn’t surprise me, I didn’t really believe that either, even though if TJ Klunes writes his story I will certainly be waiting to read it. Those last sentences are I feel worthy of the Bear himself……….
This book’s self belief felt strained to me but nevertheless the pages turned at a frantic rate and I was fully if often critically engaged with these unforgettable characters.