Rating: 4.5 stars
Sometimes, I select five stars for my 4.5 star reviews. And other times, I select 4 stars for the same rated reviews. While I love The Art of Breathing, there was one (major) thing that kept me from selecting that extra star. But first, what I did
Reading this book was like coming back home from college for the first time. That feeling of home, and familiarity with the world that has been your whole life up to that point. Being back at Seafare, Seattle, all the characters we have become familiar with are there. Bear is still Bear. Otter is still Otter. The Kid isn't necessarily a kid anymore, but a sort-of Bear version 2.0. Then there's Anna, Creed, their kid, Mrs. P in her own special way. And Dominic, but we'll talk about that
later. Basically, if you've read the ramblings of neurotic Bear for the past two books, then you'll survive the very similar ramblings of Tyson. It was endearing at times, but can get exhausting. There were moments I've had to put the book down and take a break, because following that kid's thought is equivalent to keeping sight of someone during a busy NYC morning rush at the subway.
My biggest joy in reading this series thus far is the devotion to friends, family, and the ones we hold dearest to our hearts. This book is no different. While we get the familiar casts of characters back, we get new ones sprinkled in. This series seems to expand the boundaries of a typical family. While a book can easily feel congested with so many characters, TJ does a great job rearing things into order before they get too out of hand (most of the time, anyways). I can't help but feel teary eyed with the resolve between Bear and Tyson. How the world begins and ends with these two characters, even when there are more people that enters this insane world of theirs. It truly is a touching story. And the story is made even more amazing by just the sheer amount of progress that has happened since the first book.
However, as much as I laughed and cried while reading The Art of Breathing, there was one major issue I had with it. I was expecting this book to be more Ty x Dominic focused. Don't get me wrong, Dominic did play a major part in the conflicts affecting this story. However, Dominic was more of a mentioned character, a sort of shadowed presence, since a lot of the story doesn't even feature him physically in it. Hell, if anything, Tyson's newest best friend probably took more word count than Dominic ever did. And that just didn't feel right to me. And this situation wasn't helped with the addition of so many new characters, though I did enjoy the inclusion of characters from TJ's other book Tell Me It's Real.
Basically, you should just continue reading this series if you've enjoyed Bear, Otter and the Kid and its sequel, Who We Are. There really isn't a reason you won't like this third installation if you're a fan of its predecessors. It's full of angst (for better or worse), comedy, sadness, love, and just a touch of awe as you explore further into the lives of the characters you've learned to love.