Holding My Breath: Book summary and reviews of Holding My Breath by Sidura Ludwig

Holding My Breath

A Novel

by Sidura Ludwig

Holding My Breath
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2008
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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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Reader Reviews

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Theresa

Sooooooo good!
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!

Meredith

Holding My Breath
This book ended up surprising me and I really enjoyed it a lot. I became engrossed with Beth and her family as she grew up and the different things that the family went through and experienced. The book had a similar vibe as "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" to me which is an amazing book as well. This is a book that you'll want to keep reading to find out what happens to each of the family members throughout their lives. Gives you a glimpse into a Jewish family in Canada and I like the fact that it was set there as most books I read are based in United States. I highly recommend it!

Sandy

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.

Kari

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.

Talya

Holding my Breath
I can't believe this is a work of fiction. I felt like a member of Beth's family with the wonderful character descriptions in the novel. The family felt so real and you could tell that the author loved them with the amount of care she put into each character. I think any person that loves reading about family ties, strong women, or generation gaps in 1960's Canada would enjoy this book.

Cecilia

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.

...13 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Sidura Ludwig was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada, and lived in Birmingham from 2001 to 2004. Her short fiction has appeared in several magazines and anthologies in Canada and England, as has her non-fiction, and she is the recipient of the Canadian Author and Bookman Prize for Most Promising Writer. Tindal Street published two of her linked short stories in Are You She? edited by Lesley Glaister. Sidura now lives in Toronto with her husband and two young children.

Follow Sidura at http://www.sidura.com/

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