As a child growing up in Farmington, Kristin Bartley Lenz dreamed of one day writing the books she loved to read.
“I was pretty sick as a kid,” said Lenz, who attended Gill Elementary, Power Middle and Farmington High schools. “I had severe allergies and asthma, I got bronchitis and pneumonia every single year.”
Reading became her refuge and even inspired her to enter a writing contest, but Lenz made social work her career path. A University of Michigan graduate, she earned her Master’s degree from Wayne State University and began working with young people. The work, she said, eventually brought her back to her dream.
Her first published novel, The Art of Holding on and Letting Go, was released this year. The story centers around Cara, a 15-year-old rock climber, and who struggles to find herself after a devastating tragedy on a mountaintop in Ecuador. Lenz drew upon her own experiences living near mountains in California and Georgia, along with research and information from friends.
“It has a lot of my values and my world view in it,” Lenz said.
Completing the book took about 10 years, even as Lenz worked on other projects. She also surrounded herself with other writers, by getting involved with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The organization provided the support that kept her going.
“I felt like I had to do this for my daughter,” she said. “I really needed to persist because of her, so she could see that if you persist, you can make your dreams come true.”
While aimed at a young adult audience, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go is a “very human story… Most of the reviewers are saying 12-and-up, but also it has enough depth and layers that adults will be drawn to it,” Lenz said.
Learn more at kristinbartleylenz.com.