Winner 2016 Sheehan YA Book Prize


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Binding: Paper
ISBN: 9780996864916
Pages: 307
Price: $12.95
Age: 12 and up
September 2016

Interviews & Cool Postings

Making Connections Guest Blog
Journey To Publication
Fiction Over Reality Interview
On the Writing of Art of....
ALAN Workshop Featured Author
Terrific Lit Panel in Hotlanta

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, making the natural world her jungle gym, the writings of Annie Dillard and Henry David Thoreau her textbooks. But when tragedy strikes on an Ecuadoran mountaintop, Cara’s nomadic lifestyle comes to an abrupt halt.

Starting over at her grandparents’ home in suburban Detroit, Cara embarks on a year of discovery, uncovering unknown strengths, friendships, and first love. Cara’s journey illustrates the transformative power of nature, love and loss, and discovering that home can be far from where you started.


“[E]loquent debut.”


“Cara is an appealing, engaging narrator. Surrounded by a well-rounded cast, Cara's journey toward a peaceful, fulfilling life is almost perfectly depicted. A compelling, unusual coming-of-age story.”


“Lenz offers a thoughtful meditation on life after loss. Lenz effortlessly explains complicated climbing terminology and intermixes moments of levity with contemplative quotations from naturalists and mountain climbers.”

Publishers Weekly

"Although this tale is about one of the most risky and exhilarating sports of all, this book is rather quiet, gradual, and sweet."


“A hot pick for outdoorsy teens who like relatable characters, with a bit of romance, mystery, and a road trip.”

School Library Journal

"This beautifully written YA novel details how difficult it can be to let go of the past, embrace the present, and make peace with an uncertain future."

—Alex Weiss, Bustle

“I loved this book. There's plenty of humor, romance, and great rock climbing scenes that will have you riveted."

—Anne Rouyer, New York Public Library

“This is an intriguing story that brings something new to the table, something we’ve not seen before, and it does it incredibly well.”

—Alice Reeds, blogger at Alice Reeds and author of Petty Little Lives

“This novel will warm the hearts of both younger and older readers alike.”

—Laura Ellen, author of Blind Spot

“This is a beautiful story of testing limits, and the bonds of friendship, family, and love.”

—Lara Zielin, author of The Implosion of Aggie Winchester and Waiting Sky

“Lenz has written a wonderful and powerfully unique story.”

—Jessie Ann Foley, author of The Carnival at Bray, a Printz Honor Book

“Lenz has shown me Cara’s world and everything it involves, and I’ve come out on the other side with a different outlook than when I first started the novel.”

—Amy Delancey, Crazy Book Obsessions!

"Cara’s story is about finding yourself, your family and your center. Lenz encourages readers to think outside the pages, to find their own place in the world as Cara discovers hers."

—Meghan Dietsche Goel, BookPeople, Austin, Texas

The Art of Holding On and Letting Go will take you to new heights.”

—Moriah Chavis, A Leisure Moment

"A powerful, enveloping story about grief—the deep layers of heartbreak bubbling beneath the surface—and the ways relationships help us through our toughest times."

—Kelly Jensen,

"Cara is strong in body and mind. From the high-stakes beginning we know she's a girl with the grit and focus to overcome anything that Life can throw at her. Life doesn't hold back. Which is when we see that Cara's greatest strength is her heart. This is a richly layered story, visceral and thoughtful in equal parts."

—Tim Wynne-Jones, The Emperor of Any Place

"From dangling over a vertical rock face in Ecuador to navigating the rocky emotional terrain of friendship and love at home, Cara’s journey totally captured my heart. Hold on tight to this book!"

—Vicky Alvear Shecter, Cleopatra's Moon, a Crystal Kite Award Winner

Sneak Peak

Click here to read chapter 1!



Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker whose career has taken her through rural Appalachia, the California Bay Area, and inner-city Detroit. She is the co-editor of the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The Art of Holding On and Letting Go is her first book.


Click here to download our comprehensive study guide. Includes early draft of chapter 1, plus exercises and prompts. Then invite Kristin to visit your class or book club.

JLG Selection Winner