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The Art of Holding On and Letting Go

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  534 ratings  ·  133 reviews
A Junior Library Guild Fall 2016 Selection

“When every piece falls into place, it’s like a dance, a delicate but powerful balancing act. The art of holding on and letting go at the same time.”
Competitive climber Cara Jenkins feels most at home high off the ground, clinging to a rock wall by her fingertips. She’s enjoyed a roaming life with her mountaineering parents, mak
Paperback, 308 pages
Published September 12th 2016 by Elephant Rock Books
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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Kristin Lenz
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: young-adult
Yes, I'm kicking off my book launch by giving my own novel a 5-star-rating! I was so excited to see the beautiful cover. I'm in the final stages of editing with my publisher this month, and the release date is September 12th, 2016. Stay tuned for giveaways!

Update, July 12, 2016: Editing is done, advance reading copies have been sent out, and reviews are rolling in. Thanks to Kirkus: "A compelling, unusual coming-of-age story." And Publisher's Weekly: "Lenz offers a thoughtful meditation on life
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous debut novel. All the details about rock climbing and the peace to be found in nature are a breath of fresh air in the YA world. I love the strong female and male characters with different backgrounds and physical challenges presented as real, rich, individual voices. "Clean" enough to give to young middle schoolers (a bit of swearing, a bit of kissing) but really aimed at high schoolers who are learning how to hold on and to let go. ...more
Angela Kidd Shinozaki
Not rated. Review only.
Advance Reading Copy.
This is one of those rare books where the story lives up to its cover and title. I couldn't wait to read this one. The idea of holding on and letting go being something that anyone can relate to and strive for. It's an especially good concept for those of us who may have a tendency to hold on a little bit too tightly. But also important for those who have experienced loss and are in danger of letting go completely. And of course it quite literally ap
Heather Meloche
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lenz's book pulled me right in with her descriptions of mountain climbing in The Art of Holding On and Letting Go. She offers so much sensual and lyrical detail about the climbing process that I felt I was on the cliffs and mountains with main character Cara. The book follows Cara's emotional journey from Ecuador, where tragedy strikes her family, to the flat, concrete streets of a Detroit suburb, where she is sent to try to restart her life with her grandparents. She must try to make new friend ...more
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
First - what an amazing cover! So beautiful and ties directly to the story.

This is one of those books that is so full of emotion and depth it sticks with you long after you finish reading it. Cara is a complex character and the growth that she goes through in the different parts of the book is very real. And the secondary characters are just as full and rich with emotion. Seeing how they interacted together made me root for the different relationships between family and friends. Lenz's writing s
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book and would have finished in one day but had to pack for a week's vacation. At first I didn't think the rock climbing aspect of the story would appeal to me much. I'm not an outdoorsy person unless sightseeing counts. But almost as soon as I started the book, I became enthralled with the characters, the plot, and--yes--the rock climbing. Kristin Lenz does a marvelous job of keeping the reader engaged in the story. I never once felt like skimming a page, which says a lot! D ...more
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
*This review will also appear on A Leisure Moment as a part of the blog tour on Aug. 22, 2016*

**I received an ARC of this book via Elephant Rock Books in exchange for an honest review**

First, let’s talk about how much I love this cover. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, yet it describes Cara perfectly. Next, I’ve never been to Detroit, or California—really any of the places mentioned in this book, but Cara made me feel like I was there. Me, someone who hates heights, lived vicariously through Ca
Mar 21, 2016 added it
Shelves: ya-fiction
I served on the Sheehan Book Prize committee that selected this book as the winner. It's a wonderful exploration of grief, of friendship, and of relationships more broadly. A solid voice, some really fantastic settings (with incredible details that really make clear Lenz knows how to world build), and a book that will linger with readers. ...more
Emily S.
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic debut novel by Lenz. I loved the symmetry between rock climbing and personal loss and love. Beautiful prose and imagery. Congrats Kristin!
--Emily S. Deibel, author of Cecilly in Cinderland
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, homeschooler and competitive climber Cara’s life falls off balance when the unthinkable happens. Cara is left to pick up the pieces in unfamiliar territory when she moves in with her grandparents. Detroit is much different than her California mountain cabin home, plus she has to adjust to the stresses of high school. New friends help her navigate these uncharted waters in this journey of self-discovery.

This debut is a quick, absorbing read about friendshi
I started this book expecting it to be a pretty light read, and on some level, it was--I finished the book within 24 of cracking it open. What I didn't expect that it was a remarkably thoughtful and multi-dimensional book about loss. When tragedy strikes Cara's family, she finds herself parked with her grandparents for an indefinite amount of time. She's jerked out of her woodsy, climby, homeschooled California world and thrown into suburban Detroit and all that goes with it.

I loved that while t
A.J. Douglas
I am most at home in a book with action, adventure, far off fantastical places, and bloody life or death fights. So when an author manages to make someone like me fall in absolute love with a contemporary novel set in my own backyard with a sports vibe to it (and I am not a sports person by any stretch), that is an accomplishment.

Cara grew up traveling the country with her adventurous parents and family friend, with the outdoors as her school, and climbing big rocks. That is until tragedy strik
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I gobbled this one right up and found it sweet and engaging and full of heart without any hint of cloyingness.

A million years ago, Kristin and I sat next to each other in a cubicle jungle and talked about books and reading and all these years later, here she is with her very own. Congratulations, Kristin and thanks for sharing your work -- I'm thrilled I got to read something of yours.
Jodi McKay
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down! Cara's story not only gives us a glimpse into the amazing world of rock climbing, it highlights and supports the need to do what you love even when life knocks you down. All of that is excellently blended with a typical life of a 15-yr-old who tries to find who she is outside of everything she's ever known. ...more
Syaza ♡
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, favorites
4.5 stars

i loved reading this! i definitely had a wonderful time reading cara's journey!

also, the way the author described both rock & wall climbing makes me wanna try it out one day too! it's so effortless (nice job!)

i highly recommend this book to everyone!
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
A beautifully written novel about loss, the meaning of "home", and the healing force of nature, rock climbing, and friendship.

Full review soon. I gotta let this one sink in.
I loved that the characters in this novel felt real -- like they were your own friends. A book I will definitely be recommending to my middle school readers.
After tragedy strikes while climber Cara Jenkins is competing in Ecuador, she finds herself living in Detroit with the grandparents she hardly knows. Cara is completely rudderless, uninterested in climbing again, and desperate to return to her California home. But her parents are still climbing mountains, even while her father in particular struggles to heal from his emotional wounds. Even while Cara chafes under her grandmother's rules and stern demeanor, she finds friendship in Kaitlyn and Nic ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by far the best book I have read in the past year. I don't care if you're 14 or 40. Everyone should read this book.

The characters are so fleshed out and we get to see them all changing from page to page, not just Cara. The author delivered everything I could have possibly wanted (honestly I even was praying someone would use the nickname Carabiner and almost cheered when it was finally used). I would give this novel more than five stars if I could.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I feel bad that I forgot to review this several years ago when I read it, but I still think about it and highly recommend it. I loved all of the great details about Cara's life as a climber and her thoughts on grief and her transformative time with her grandparents in Detroit. This book is fantastic! ...more
Jan Wollet
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The reason this book took so long to read was my teenage daughter and I were reading it together. Finding the time our schedules jived to read together were far and few between. It was nice to read about the sport of climbing. It will not disappoint!
I liked this book more than I was expecting! It was a lot deeper and more heart-felt than I have read in many YA books. The rock climbing descriptions were interesting as I know nothing at all about climbing. I liked the main character Cara, and I even found myself tearing up at the most unexpected places. One of my favorite characters, actually, was her grandfather. I loved his little hidden sense of humor and they way he seemed to just "get" Cara.
Andrea Hunley
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I stumbled upon this book in a local book shop- the beautiful cover and the fact that it was autographed copy (woohoo!) caught my attention. I'm so glad I picked his up. I'll definitely be recommending this to my middle schoolers (and adult friends too). I love how it hit on themes of risk-taking, independence, femininity, and loss. ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked that the main character’s frustrations matched my own, going up and down and shifting throughout the book. I liked that this book didn’t aggressively examine and criticise some of the contemporary topics, like environmental issues or the ever-growing world of technology. On a différent note, this book has made me want to go rock climbing again!
books are love
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Received in exchange for a honest review.

This is a incredible book. For a first book, Kristin Lenz hits it out of the park. each character is dynamic and amazing. the story is real and one so many of us face whether we are teens or adults. We see a young girl who is torn and lost but also angry for she is placed in a place and situation that is foreign to her and at a time when she really needs to have her parents love and security and has love but isn’t seen outright and no security.

Cara is a c
Alice Reeds
Find my review also on my blog.

* Thank you to Elephant Rock Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review *

When the publisher contacted me regarding this book and I checked out the synopsis I was definitely intrigued. I've never read a book about a competitive climber before, or even seen climbing being mentioned in any other YA book I've read so far, so I was eager to dive into it. Thanks to a massive reading slump it took me way longer then it usually would, which is a
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Cara Jenkins is a nationally ranked competitive climber. Homeschooled by her mountaineer parents, Cara has always felt at home on rock faces and cliffs. When disaster strikes during a climb in Ecuador, Cara's carefully ordered world is completely upended.

While her parents struggle to move on in Ecuador, Cara finds herself living with her grandparents in Detroit and entering a traditional high school for the first time.

Determined to give up climbing in her grief, Cara will have to figure out who
Susannah Nichols
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'd been looking forward to this novel for a long time, and it did not disappoint! This book delivers everything: a likable, talented, smart yet realistic protagonist (and an incredible cast of supporting characters... Grandpa practically steals the show), a nuanced and thoughtful yet non-plodding plot, and a setting that was innovative and artfully rendered. One of my favorite elements of the story was how fully it was grounded in the details of mountain climbing--I got a wonderful insight into ...more
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I won! I won! A copy of this book was sent to me by the good folks at Elephant Rock Books - thank you one and all! I am happy to have the opportunity to review THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO at its relative "birth" into the world. I will give an honest review.

You can get the general gist of the book from the above description, but what I'd like to tell you about is the nice development of the characters and the way the characters learn to empathize and realize they are not alone in their t
Dunja *a chain reader*
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, ya, night-owl
"The Art of Holding on and Letting Go" is a debut YA novel worth reading. The story revolves around Cara Jenkins a teenage girl and competitive climber. Cara lived with her parents and their friend. But one day after the tragic incident that changed and Cara is forced to move with her grandparents. The story follows Cara's coming of age during her junior year in highs school. During that year Cara tries to find her new life, she falls in love and, to she learns how to climb again.

I was amazed by
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Kristin Bartley Lenz is the Michigan bestselling author of the young adult novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go. This “eloquent debut” (Booklist), “hot pick” (School Library Journal), and “compelling, unusual coming-of-age novel” (Kirkus) was the 2016 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize winner, a 2016 Junior Library Guild Selection, and an honor book for the 2017-2018 Great Lakes Great Books state- ...more

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