Published by Elephant Rock Books on September 12th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Coming of Age, Social Themes, Death & Dying
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.
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.
I really enjoyed Elephant Rocks Books’ The Carnival at Bray, so I jumped at the chance to read their latest book. This debut is a quick, absorbing read about friendship, grief, family, love and following your passion. I’ve never been mountain climbing but I was caught up in Cara’s love for the sport, and the vivid descriptions made it feel like I was right there with her.
When Cara’s parents and her Uncle Max, all accomplished climbers, get into trouble on their latest adventure, Cara’s parents think it’s best for her to go live with her grandparents for a while. She doesn’t really know them well, and since she’s had such an untraditional upbringing, high school is a shock to the system. I loved seeing Cara’s relationship with her grandparents grow and to see what life has been like for them while Cara was off mountain climbing all over the world.
Two goths at high school take Cara under their wing. Kaitlyn and Nick both have their own struggles and recognize a kindred spirit in Cara. They also help to look into the mystery of the anonymous notes left in Cara’s locker. The notes reference Cara’s climbing career highs and lows and encourage her to visit the local climbing gym, Planet Granite. Cara enjoys Agatha Christie novels, and it was fun to see her involved with her own personal mystery to solve.
The mountain climbing descriptions and terms made the sport come alive. And the climbing and nature theme of the book was enhanced by Cara’s love for the naturalist writings of Henry David Thoreau.
Kristin Lenz is a welcome new voice in the YA landscape, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Cara’s adventures.
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Check out author Kristin Bartley Lenz’ guest post “The Art of Research” for inside info on the writing process.