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Holding My Breath - A Novel

Spanning three decades against the backdrop of the Jewish community in Winnipeg, Holding My Breath 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. Noticeably absent is her uncle, Phil, who died tragically during the Second World War.

As Beth grows up, she finds herself navigating between the old world and the new, and the mounting pressure to conform feeds her longing to escape.

A bold and tender debut novel from a fresh and exciting new voice.

Praise for Holding My Breath

Ludwig’s setting, the North End of Winnipeg, is richly drawn without intruding on the calm, quiet story…. Ludwig has the gifts to launch beyond the predictable.

- The Globe and Mail

A polished work from a new voice in Canadian literature.

- Halifax Chronicle Herald

Ludwig creates a group of characters who are complex, strong and distinct…. Her sensitive and detailed exploration of character, combined with her skill at evoking the specificities of time and place, create something to which everyone can relate.

- Winnipeg Free Press

Ludwig captures the complexities of love, as it relates to personal happiness but also responsibility to family, friends and community. She has a talent for dialogue and manages to communicate the feeling garnered by those uncomfortable moments we’ve all experienced when something awkward is said and people flounder to find a response. While this is Ludwig’s first novel, she has had short fiction published in several magazines and anthologies and she is the recipient of the Canadian Author and Bookman First Prize for Most Promising New Writer. Much-deserved honours, indeed.

- Jewish Independent

Holding My Breath is calm and absorbing, its themes handled with delicacy. The writing is precise and each lyrical moment is earned.

-  Telegraph (UK)

Ludwig’s first novel is a warm, deftly rendered Jewish family saga… [T]he characters are distinctive and Ludwig has a talent for storytelling.”

- The Guardian

[A] nicely observed debut… charming.

- Publishers Weekly

[T]he women shine as complex characters, furious and forgiving, resistant and resigned. Ludwig is particularly good at evoking atmosphere, the heaviness of summer in Winnipeg, the smell of holiday cooking, the oppressive measurements of meddlesome community…. [A] compelling and worthy first effort.”

- Books in Canada

Ludwig’s honest, clear writing and patient, compassionate observations render the characters and their insular world entirely believable.

- The Literary Review of Canada

Impressive… Ludwig tells an absorbing story, and we look forward to hearing more from this young writer.

- The Chicago Jewish Star

This 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

 

Holding My Breath is a skillful exploration of one Jewish family in the North End of Winnipeg during the aftermath of the Second World War… Ludwig deftly weaves historical markers and references to Winnipeg into the story, allowing the reader to focus on the characters, their ambitions, triumphs and tragedies. Holding My Breath is a polished and satisfying novel.

- Jury for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award

Quietly compelling… Ludwig explores the universal conflict between individual needs and family ties with sympathy and compassion.

- Clare Morrall, author of Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Beth, our delightful narrator, stakes her own claim early on, and the reader is instantly smitten. Holding My Breath is a sweet, sad, and compulsively readable tale that manages, along with its lovely, unbreakable characters, to soar.

- Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country

This is a portrait of an era, a city, a family a story lovingly told by a girl born into Winnipeg’s postwar Jewish community…. Here are three sisters… seen through the eyes of a daughter torn between familial devotion and restless, brilliant ambition. This novel depicts the tremendous capacity for love and the sometimes tragic tendency to hold our loved ones too tight.

- Margaret Sweatman, playwright and author of When Alice Lay Down With Peter
Holding My Breath - A Novel

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