Rated of 5
by Sandy (Houston TX)
Solid debut novel from Sidura Ludwig
Holding My Breath is a coming of age story set in Winnepeg's North End, spanning from the 1950s and into the 70s. Told from the perspective of Beth Levy, the book chronicles the life of a young Jewish woman struggling to find her identity and the delicate balance between living up to family expectations while trying to follow ones dreams.
Ludwig provides the reader with insight into the suffocating sense of duty and responsibility placed upon the shoulders of a young woman growing up in a Jewish community (or any community, perhaps) during that time period. Rather than following her dreams of studying astronomy, Beth is encouraged to stay in Winnepeg and take over the family business and, above all else, become a wife and mother.
Ludwig succeeds in providing a sense of place about the insular world that Beth inhabits, revolving around her home, her aunts apartment and the family pharmacy. The cast of women in Beths life are well developed.
There were a few areas, however, that could have deserved further development. As the only Jew on a softball team, Beth strives to make sure her last name is not placed on the team t-shirt. This was the first and only mention of Beth being in any way self conscious about her Jewish heritage. I was left wandering about the significance of this episode in the story as a whole.
But, all in all, a solid debut novel. I look forward to reading more from Sidura Ludwig.