Briar Rose

Briar Rose

A Novel of the Holocaust

Book - 2016
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Rebecca has always loved listening to her grandmother's stories about Briar Rose. However, the old woman's astonishing and hard-to-believe admission that she "is" Briar Rose sets Rebecca on an unforgettable path of self-discovery that will change her life forever.

Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2016.
Copyright Date: ©1992.
ISBN: 9780312851354
Characteristics: 271 pages ;,21 cm.


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Sep 06, 2018

2.5 - I *might* recommend if you are looking for a middle-grade novel with serious subject matter. I don't want to ruin this for those interested, so highlight the white text below. This is a sleeping beauty re-telling, but it is not fantasy based in any way.

When Becca's grandmother passes away, all she leaves behind is a box of documents and a rendition of Sleeping Beauty that she told over and over. Becca, a journalist, promises to solve the mystery by finding out her grandmother's past, where "the castle" is, and who "the prince" is.

I didn't really enjoy this book. For one, I picked it up expecting it to be a fluffy middle-grade fairy tale re-telling. But for more reasons, the different plot pieces of the book felt kind of piecemealed together. Their childhood, Becca going to upstate New York to learn more about her grandmother, an overseas trip, etc. I like the idea behind what Yolen is trying to do, I don't want to give spoilers.... However, it took a really long time for Becca to figure it out, and within the mystery there were not that many moving pieces. That was tidy and anticlimactic. I guess people are offended by the LGBTQ+ content in this book, which is VERY tame and virtually non-existent. This was written in 1988, but it is currently 2018 folks. (off soap box now) I did find it confusing that our protagonist was 23 years old, and it was written for middle-graders. I think? However, the protagonist's dad makes several not so subtle inappropriate jokes, and it mentions our main character watching a "soft core" movie. Who is this book written for? How confusing! There was a very surface level love story thrown in there, it felt unnecessary. I see what Yolen was doing with Sleeping Beauty, but it just felt like all of the pieces were a little too subtle or randomly woven together.

May 27, 2016

This is a reissue of a book written in 1992.
Rebecca's Polish grandma didn’t remember her early life - the first thing she remembers is being pregnant in a US shelter for concentration camp rescuees. Using documents her grandmother had not shared with the family, the savvy of a young newspaper editor and historical societies in the US, Rebecca sets out for Poland to discover her origins. There she and another young woman hired to be her guide and translator brave hostile townsmen to find a sympathetic priest and an old nobleman who know the terrible truth.

Briar Rose blends a YA coming-of-age plot with tragic, riveting depiction of Nazi horrors. I don’t feel this combination is totally successful. There is a great gap between the depiction of Rebecca’s modern-day family squabbles and budding romance, and the relentless evil of the holocaust. The writing and characterization are fine, but there is something amiss with the pacing or perhaps the transition back home after the trip ends.
It’s a short book and well worth the read, but on balance not quite satisfactory.

Jul 14, 2013

Lyrical writing, haunting, sparse and beautiful. Not unlike Night, it give the bitter truth of the holocaust. Not unlike Anne Frank it showcases the hope that remains lightly flickering even amidst endless despair.

What a wonderful story, of a search for family history, of the horror of the holocaust, and of the hope of a girl's belief in a fairy tale passed down through generations... always telling but disguising the truth.

Read this!

kgloumakoff Jun 05, 2013

Very interesting retelling of a classic fairy tale. A bit dark, and the end is heavy in history, but the way the story ties together is so gripping!

Feb 10, 2013

I really enjoyed this book. I never would have thought of tying the holocaust to sleeping beauty. It was well written and a very fast, enjoyable read.

DiscoDomo Nov 25, 2011

I loved this book! So much kept you interested in it, from the mystery of who Gemma was to the fairy tale of her sleeping beauty I found it hard to put down. I highly recommend it, especially for people who enjoy learning about the holocaust.

Sep 29, 2009

A touching and engrossing read.

Sep 18, 2009

I stumbled across this book and will now be recommending it to everyone I know. I think (94% sure) this was the best book I've read so far this year. Almost from the start I was crying and didn't stop until it was over. A beautiful story that will pull you in and make you feel for times that many won't easily talk about. Yolen, in my opinion, really weaved fiction and reality into a gripping story.


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kgloumakoff Jun 05, 2013

Becca grew up listening to her grandmother, Gemma, retell the story of Briar Rose (also known as Sleeping Beauty) over and over again. Now that Becca is older, she visits Gemma in the nursing home nearly everyday. One of the last things that Gemma says to Becca before she passes is "I am Briar Rose." Knowing that Briar Rose was only a story, but believing in her grandmother, Becca sets out on a journey to find out where Gemma came from and how she came to America in the midst of World War II.


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Jul 14, 2013

"This is a book of fiction. All the characters are made up. Happy-ever-after is a fairy tale notion, not history. I know of no woman who escaped from Chelmno alive."

And yet this telling is how it could have been. Stark and steeped in fairy tale notions.

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