"When every piece falls
into place, it’s like a dance,
a delicate but powerful
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 the tips of her fingers. 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 Ecuadorian 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.
The Art of Holding On and Letting Go
"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, award-winning author of The Emperor of Any Place and Blink & Caution
“Lenz has written a wonderful and powerfully unique story.”
--Jessie Ann Foley, author of The Carnival at Bray, a Printz Honor Book
“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, author of Cleopatra's Moon, a Crystal Kite Award winner
"Cara's resilience and strength are as granite hard as the walls she climbs. The Art of Holding On and Letting Go is a beautiful story of testing limits, and the bonds of friendship, family, and love. I was transported into the climbing world -- one I'd never visited before, and I loved what a rich metaphor it was for Cara's journey."
--Lara Zielin, author of The Implosion of Aggie Winchester and Waiting Sky
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.
--Moriah Chavis, A Leisure Moment
There is a sleight at hand at work here. Kristin Lenz got me completely hooked into Cara's struggle to find her place in the world. But somehow, by the home stretch of this book I found myself invested in, and rooting for--not only Cara--but her three new friends, her grandmother and her mom and dad...each of them with their own specific struggle, each with a personal mountain to climb. Not sure how Lenz got me so connected to so many lives, so many individual stories. But she did. This book is wonderful.
--Patrick Flores-Scott, author of Jumped In, a Walden and Great Lakes - Great Books Finalist
Read more of my writing here:
My poem, Soccer Rules, is published in this anthology for teens: Rhyme & Rhythm: Poems for Student Athletes, edited by Sarah J. Donovan.
Thanks to the New York Times for publishing my poem, Flying, online and in their Sunday paper!
I co-edit the Mitten, the official blog for the Michigan Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. (But after 7 years, I'm retiring in fall 2021!)
I also write for Detroit non-profits, including the Oakland County Task Force on Homelessness and Poverty, Skillman Foundation, Neighborhood Services Organization, and the Harvest Magazine published by Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.
Women on Writing published my 2nd place Flash Fiction contest winner, Photosynthesis. My YA story, Spontaneous Combustion, was a runner-up in another Flash Fiction contest.
Literary Mama published my poem, Daughter (Dis)connected.
Writer's Digest published my article, The Power of Contests: Create Your Own Luck
Here are some of my blog posts:
A Slice of Detroit Pie, an essay about working as a social worker in Detroit, was published by Great Lakes Review.
The Power of Butterflies, was a finalist for the 2011 Hunger Mountain Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing.
Taking a Leap: Coming Home to the Wild, is an essay published by We are Wildness. More posts: