The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz

This was another book that I read because of YA Fest.  I had a galley of it on my bookshelf from Heartland Fall Forum and so it was the first book I claimed when we were deciding who would read what.

This was a great book.  It dealt with tragedy, as many YA books today do, but it also dealt with the idea of starting over, making it a hopeful book in the end.  I very much enjoyed the way the novel looked at the way adults and children grieve and how tragedy affects these groups in similar and different ways.  I absolutely loved Cara, the protagonist, who dealt with trying to figure out who she was when she loses the things that she has used to define herself her entire life.  Bartley Lenz’s characters speak for themselves.  They aren’t monsters with ulterior motives.  You don’t spend time thinking , “Oh, I can’t like this guy because he is going to turn out to be the stereotypical YA asshole male.”  Instead, the characters all come together to create a great story showing that it is possible to start over, even when it might feel impossible in the moment.  (As someone who moved across the country halfway through the 8th grade, I loved this and definitely connected to the story on a weird level.)

The writing is beautiful, the characters are amazing, and I loved my time with this book.  In a world of dystopian and sci-fi adventure, as well as incredibly dark stories, this was a great realistic book that, while incredibly sad at times, left me feeling hopeful and reminded me that there are good people in the world.

Also, between reading this book and After the Fall by Kate Hart, I have decided that I will not be going hiking anytime soon.  Nope.  Will not happen.

4-stars

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