(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Elephant Rock Books on September 12th 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Friendship, Love & Romance, Sports & Recreation, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
“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.
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 Cara as she climbed her way across the world. She didn’t just climb mountains, and her hands weren’t the only part of her left with a few scars. Her story was about her metaphorical mountains as much as it was about the physical ones.
As I read The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, I pegged it as a young adult novel for any age. It had complex ideas of existentialism but could easily be enjoyed by someone just discovering the glorious young adult section. The characters acted their age, but that isn’t to say that each didn’t grow. I liked watching that growth transpire, whether through new friendships or stepping outside one’s comfort zone.
The friendships that Cara made in Detroit made so much of the story. Kaitlyn and Cara were a dynamic duo of sorts, and Nick had a welcomed presence. Lenz also added Kaitlyn’s struggles with her looks and identity in a graceful way but still tackled what it means to be different and that being different is okay. Because of their amazing friendship and how Nick loved Kaitlyn for the girl under the goth, I rooted for her and Nick to get together the entire time and wanted their friendship to go to tbe next level.
First love is such a precarious thing. What defines it, and how do you know when it happens? Tom Torres was Cara’s question. She had been one of the guys for so long that she didn’t know what to do when one of those guys saw her as Cara Jenkins, girl climber—or just a girl that loved Agatha Christie novels. They didn’t have a hot and heavy romance but a slow burn.
Cara’s most integral relationship was that with her grandparents. The family had to mend through an unwilling volunteer, and it took some time for them to find their footing. Cara acted like any sixteen-year-old would, and her grandparents could only do what they knew to do. It was entertaining and heartfelt and carried a lot of the book.
The beginning of the book was a tad drawn out but necessary. Some things happened at the beginning that I did not expect, but I liked the twist that Lenz added. I can see why this book is already winning awards. The Art of Holding On and Letting Go will take you to new heights.