Coming Up for Air

Written by Sarah Leipciger
Review by Clare Lehovsky

Three timelines. Three stories. Three lives. Coming Up for Air is an exquisite story of medical advancement. By successfully balancing these three stories, Leipciger demonstrates her skill as an author by including the same theme throughout each protagonist’s life and experience. Rivers, water, and breathing run through the novel as significantly as the pace of each chapter. The author uses different points of view to intensify the atmosphere and achieves this brilliantly.

It was fascinating to learn about each period of history she writes about, including 19th– century France, 1950s Norway and 1980s up to present-day Canada. Although it initially seems like the author has taken on too many threads of stories, she shocks away those doubts with intricate relationships that have a lasting effect on the reader throughout the novel. Her immediacy of language shines through on every page, from describing the simple action of biting into food or the clasping of a loved one. As you read on to the last moment of the novel, it feels like Leipciger is reminding you that love comes in many forms, be it the sacrifice of a mother or the final trip to the hospital. Each twist comes to completion and leaves the reader with a sense of understanding. This is a fitting result from a novel that exists to challenge and contemplate simultaneously.