Review: Why We Fight (At First Sight #4) by T.J. Klune

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Corey Ellis sure doesn’t. Oh, everyone around him seems to have found their happy ending, but he’s far too busy to worry about such things. He’ll have plenty of time for romance after he survives his last summer before graduation. So what if he can’t get his former professor, Jeremy Olsen, out of his head? It’s just hero worship. And that’s the way it should stay.

Except that this summer, bigender Corey—aka Kori—is interning at Phoenix House, a LGBTQI youth center that recently hired an interim director. And because life is extraordinarily unfair, the director just so happens to be a certain former professor, now current boss.

Desperate to keep things professional as he and Jeremy grow closer, Corey makes a major mistake: he turns to his friends, Paul Auster and Sanford Stewart, for help.

But Paul and Sandy have some ideas of their own.

Set in the summer of 2016, Why We Fight is a celebration of queer life and being true to oneself… no matter the cost.

I couldn’t wait to read Corey/Kori’s story, and at the same time, I didn’t even want to start it because, like so many others, I don’t want the At First Sight series to end. But, like all good things, blah, blah, blah and here we are. Why We Fight is the perfect end.

The flavor of it is a little different than the rest of the series, but it has to be. It’s a little more serious and tackles the reality of 2016 because it has to. It’s Corey’s life and love story, but it’s also the story of the whole family as they mature and all their lives evolve. They evolve together though and while bits were terribly bittersweet, they were still full of hope and happiness. You’ll notice that I used the word “mature” there, you have to know that term is relative with regards to the Tucson crew.

There were still plenty of shenanigans to keep me laughing throughout and there’s really nothing better than family dinners at the Auster house. The extended family is growing by two as Charlie’s gentleman, Robert and his son Jeremy are welcomed, nay shanghaied, into the fold. I do love when lonely people find their homes in stories and when it’s a chosen home, the finding is that much sweeter. The characters are always so appreciative of what they have too, it just makes me feel good to read their interactions. The snark and sarcasm keep them real and hilarious and the balance, as always, is perfectly done.

I appreciated reading Corey’s distinct voice and perspective. He’s a bit more serious and jaded than Paul, Sandy, Vince and Darren, and it makes sense for him. He’s seen some shit and he’s lived a life where he depended on no one but himself. And then of course along came Sandy and he got the family he always deserved but never had. He’s about done with his Master’s and the changes coming for him are scary in a way he’s never had to worry about before. He didn’t have family, so leaving his foster parents was never a real emotional thing. But he has a family now, couples are pairing up, things are changing and his educational career is coming to an end. He’s at a bit of crossroad and I could feel how unsettled he was.

This is Corey’s happy ending though and when Jeremy, his hot professor shows up as the interim director of Phoenix House everyone but them knew what was coming. Their journey to their HEA was different than Paul and Vince or Sandy and Darren. I mean, obviously, but I mean it in the way that Corey and Jeremy are more mature, more worldly, so they kept the decorum for a good bit, because neither was willing to jeopardize what the other had going on professionally. Not that there weren’t some amazing moments that were the exact opposite of that, but overall, there was just a lot of respect between the two of them.

Being that Why We Fight is set in 2016, with the spectre of the Cheeto on the horizon, there were a lot of poignant moments that gave the issues that the LGBTQI community is now confronted with a personal face. It’s important to read, it’s important to listen and it’s important to learn from the stories told here. Charlie made me cry more than once and I’m getting all verklempt just thinking about him. The respect, friendship and love he is shown throughout the story really made this book for me.

While I’ve mostly reflected on the heavier side of Why We Fight, and I’ve only mentioned shenanigans in passing, you have to know there are some amazingly wonderfully stupid moments that are the hallmark of this series. There’s always so much great stuff that I’ve reread each book multiple times and discovered/remembered a moment every time. I’m going to do that with Why We Fight too. I think I was so moved by all the dynamics, that I know I have to go back and re-appreciate the interactions. They are too good not to read multiple times.

I’m so sad to see this series come to a close, but I loved how it ended. I’ve always felt invested in these characters and to see them all with their HEAs makes my heart happy.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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