Sylvia (Scottsdale AZ)
I Held My Breath
I liked this book a lot...the problem is I wanted to love it a lot. The first chapter was so well written and compelling that my expectations might have been too high. I thought the characters, who had acted consistently throughout the story changed too rapidly in the book's rather rushed ending. The unique setting was fresh and made this coming of age story worthy. Good...not great.
Laura (Providence RI)
Holding my Breath
This book is enjoyable if you are interested in family dynamics, how childhood events and cultural issues shape who you are. I was able to read it quickly and get involved in the characters. It is told from the perspective of a child, and ends as this child approaches adulthood. The concepts touched upon are serious, death and grief, career choice, family dynamics, and more. Sidura Ludwig deals with these issues seriously and deeply. At times I became confused about what time in the person's life is being discussed. She often jumps from the past to the future, and that can be hard to follow. Still, I would recommend this book if you are interested in Canadian Jewish family-life in the 1960's.
Sandy (Fort Myers FL)
A captivating multi-generational story
This captivating, multi-generational story offers a glimpse into family life (albeit dysfunctional) in Jewish Canada in the 1950's and 60's. The women in the story are tough and strong and their characters are extremely well developed. In particular the narrator, one of the daughters, Beth, feels very real-to-life. You feel like she could literally walk off the page as she recounts her family story, capturing moments both happy and sad. I was totally drawn into both the story as well as the depiction of a place and time foreign to me.
Froma (Boulder CO)
Holding My Breath
Long on plot and short on character, this rather wooden first novel was not bad enough to stop reading but not good enough to recommend. Although the novel is set in Manitoba, there is no real sense of locale; it could be anywhere. The details that establish time do not seem intrinsic to the plot - which is odd in a coming of age story set in the 1950's to 1970's. All in all, a mediocre first attempt.
Kari (Oslo )
Holding My Breath - by Sidura Ludwig
I have always loved coming of age stories! I read a LOT of coming of age stories. This one, Holding My Breath, was great. I felt that I got to know all the characters very well, and they all seemed very real. Beth's narrative worked very well all the way through the book, it was really done in an entertaining and interesting way. It didn't matter at all that I really don't know much about Jewish culture or the time period the story took place in.However, this did not bother me at all, and I think that's a big part of why I liked this book so much. It was so easy to just feel like you were THERE with all the characters.
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.
Cecilia (Montclair NJ)
Holding My Breath
This is a remarkable coming-of-age story about a young girl growing up in a Jewish family in Canada during the 1950's and 1960's. It is very well-written, with interesting and believable characters. What resonated with me is how well it dealt with the conflicts in growing up during this time, especially the difference in expectations of the generation coming out of World War II and the next, growing up in the 60's. The development over the years in the relationship between the girl and her mother was very moving and very realistic. I look forward to reading future novels by this author.