I finally got around to reading this book. I enjoyed Tell Me It's Real tremendously and BOATK has been on my TBR list forever but not started due to its long length. To me, this is a book with a lot of brilliance and a few important blemishes.
The writing is excellent and there's no doubt that T.J. Klune is an author to be reckoned with in this genre. He has a very fine prose voice and way with emotion that reminds me a bit of Stephen King. I loved all the characters, especially Bear and Otter and I didn't have a problem per se with the Kid sounding so mature, though some of it was quite a stretch even for the most intelligent 8-year-old. The sex scenes were minimally explicit but very poetic and well done--which I prefer over pages and pages of unoriginal porn. I loved the humor and a lot of the imagery and the setting, and the gay-for-you romance was superbly paced and believable. There's a wonderful core love here between not only the two MCs but all the characters that I adored.
The two things that took me out of putting this story in my top five or giving it 5 stars-- first, the scene where the mother returns. How did she learn about Bear and Otter? How did she know about San Diego? If she really was that passionately homophobic, and was in a place in her life to take Ty back, why did she subsequently disappear again, even after she was served the adoption paperwork? Was she now working? Still with Tom? None of this is ever explained. That scene was so unrealistic in terms of her characterization, and so obviously just an authorial weapon to create angst, that I almost couldn't keep reading. I started skimming from that point to get through some of that drama and I was really surprised that the author never did try to justify what she'd done or explain what it was really all about.
The second thing that I wasn't crazy about was the sheer length and repetitiveness. There were entire scenes repeated, such as the day the mother leaves, and I felt the retelling didn't add anything new. In addition, while I liked the storm and earthquake imagery a lot, some of that did go on too long and too often and I ended up skimming it. I read a lot and I value my time so I prefer when an author is 'respectful' of my time and doesn't go on and on when it doesn't serve the plot. This 600 page book could have been 200 pages lighter IMHO.
Nevertheless, as I said, there is a lot of brilliance in this book and I'm very glad I read it. I look forward to anything new by T.J. Klune.