The year is 1947. The world has survived the Second Great War, and in the north end of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saul and Goldie Levy are married at Royal Alex Hall. Goldie's parents and her two sisters, Carrie and Sarah, are in attendance. Noticeably absent is her brother Phil, who died during the war in a plane that crashed somewhere in North Africa. Five years later, they will have a child, a daughter they will name Beth. This is her story.
Holding My Breath: A Novel is a poignant coming-of-age tale told from the point of view of Beth Levy, the youngest in a household of two generations of strong Jewish women. There's her mother, Goldie, who upholds the middle-class values and traditions at home and in the community; her aunt Carrie, who never married and carries a secret, tragic past; and her youngest aunt, Sarah, the most beautiful, wild and rebellious of the three sisters. As Beth grows up, she finds herself navigating between the old world and the new, and the mounting pressure to conform only feeds her longing to escape.
"There is much to admire in Sidura Ludwig's debut novel, Holding My Breath, a coming-of-age story set in the mid-20th century: its powerful evocation of setting, compelling cast of complex female characters and affirming celebration of Jewish family life." - The National Post (Canada).
"Holding My Breath is a deft, albeit safe, debut. Ludwig has the gifts to launch beyond the predictable. When she dares to exhale, she may find her writing takes a leap." - The Globe and Mail (Canada).
"Issues such as anti-Semitism and adolescent cruelty surface briefly and are quickly dropped. The result is a charming, if less than courageous, performance." - Publishers Weekly.
"A loving yet unsentimental look at Jewish assimilation in Canada. Ludwig deftly describes the push-pull that burdens the children of immigrant parents, a dance between tradition and progress." - Kirkus Reviews.
"In her debut novel of a multi-generational Jewish Winnipeg family, award-winning Canadian short story writer Ludwig beautifully illustrates the secrets and sins that erode facades, damage trust, and threaten potential. Highly recommended." - Library Journal.
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Rated of 5
Holding My Breath by Sidura Ludwig
Overall, this was an OK novel. The author did a great job in capturing the essence of this family. The characters and storyline seemed realistic as if the reader was invited into to take a personal glimpse into real lives. However, I steadily became frustrated and disappointed by the lack of development of the characters and the story. I felt like pieces were missing that weren't shared and needed to be shared about these people. Also, I found myself wanting to learn more about the culture and religious practices that were so much a part of their lives but not fully explained to an outsider such as myself. The book had lots of potential that was not attained to increase it's enjoyment.
Rated of 5
Holding My Breath seemed to me 18 chapters of randomness. The different characters are described in sometimes creative and fun detail, but the characters do not merge together to tell a defining story. The women struggle with depression, and relationships and how to find "their" happiness and their solutions are told too briefly and too easily. There was never a real connection to any of the characters as they never truly opened up in the book. I would have a hard time telling a friend to read the book.
Rated of 5
Don't hold your breath...
The storyline in this novel was interesting enough to hold my attention at times, but the writing style was somewhat choppy. The book was not organized as well as it could have been, and there were several storylines touched on but not fully developed. Character development was another area that lacked. You get to know several characters, but none of them well. When all is said and done, its a decent read, but not fantastic. Leave it on your nightstand, and take something else to the beach.
Rated of 5
Holding My Breath
I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a chance to read about a culture I know very little about. I thought the relationships and the differences between the women in this family were well explored. It was good to see the growth that Beth went through from childhood to adulthood and how she came about making the right choice for herself.
Rated of 5
Characters in a changing cultural landscape
I really enjoyed "Holding My Breath". I was trying to read it during a very busy couple of weeks, but I thought about it a lot while I was away from it. The characters seemed like real people to me, and I think the author did a nice job showing how growing up during changing social times can make for conflicting values. I'd love to know what happens to the characters after the book ended. I would recommend this book to others, and I think it would make a good book for book club discussion.
Rated of 5
I love this book- Holding my Breath. This book was well put in words!!! I instantly fell in love with all of the characters!! and it was VERY easy to get lost in their stories!!! I love this book and I'm sure I'll read it again!
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