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Holding My Breath Review

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Holding My Breath is an apt title as Ace Moloi is always awaiting the next calamity. This memoir is presented as a letter to his deceased mother who passes away when he is thirteen.

Holding My Breath is an apt title as Ace Moloi is always awaiting the next calamity. This memoir is presented as a letter to his deceased mother who passes away when he is thirteen. Ace and his older brother are raised in a single-parent home, so losing their mother means losing their anchor. Ace feels he has to break the family pattern of dire poverty and decides to drive himself towards this vision in thought and action.

His memoir describes the earlier years spent in his great-grandmother's house. There are others in this house but they feel like outsiders. Then the two brothers and their mother move to a single room shack. Life is very difficult, but Ace does well in school even as he struggles with asthma. 

Their mother's step-father dies and leaves them his house. His mother earns R700 per month and works under appalling conditions. Ace goes to Phiri Intermediate School in Qwa Qwa, Free State, where he excels. He wants to be a footballer but realises as a village boy there is no chance he will be successful. 

His mother dies just before he passes Grade 9 and a monster arrives at the house - his aunt's boyfriend. It is a terrifying situation having no parent to turn to, and when his aunt leaves, they are left destitute. With all his trials and tribulations, Ace still becomes the village role model as he passes matric with a good academic record. 

Ace visits his father but realises he has lost nothing. Perhaps his absence was a blessing in disguise. Now Ace has to make it on his own. He has been given a bursary to University of the Free State and graduates with a degree in corporate and marketing communications. He gains a leadership position in his residence and is involved with campus media. In December 2014 he becomes an intern for Johannesburg Roads Agency. 

Holding My Breath is a heart-rending account of an underprivileged boy who pushes through extremely difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, he is not alone. To move ahead under these appalling conditions takes the ultimate courage and tenacity. 

Dawn Blankfield
www.writerswrite.co.za
4.5/5