Briar Rose

Briar Rose

A Novel of the Holocaust

Book - 2016
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Briar Rose is a historically sensitive retelling of Sleeping Beauty set amid forests patrolled by the German army during World War II.

In the heat of midsummer 1942, deep in a forest in the heart of Poland, Briar Rose arrives at a castle that has fallen into the hands of an evil army. Corrupted by dark deeds and choked by a poisonous mist, the castle will soon come to be known as Chelmno extermination camp. And in that place of death, Briar Rose is plunged into a deep sleep....

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma's stories of Briar Rose. Becca would have sworn the stories were made up, but on her deathbed Gemma extracts from Becca a promise to fulfill three impossible requests: find the castle, find the prince, and find the spell-maker. Her vow sends Becca on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma's astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose.

Yolen's graceful retelling of the German folktale of "Briar Rose"--known to some as "Sleeping Beauty"--sets the story amid forests patrolled by the German army during World War II. Yolen confronts the deeply tragic events of the Holocaust with lyrical prose and rich characterizations that tell a tale of good and evil, hope and despair.

The Washington Post called Briar Rose "a terrifically moving story."

Publisher: New York : Tor, 2016.
Copyright Date: ©1992.
ISBN: 9780765382948
Characteristics: 271 pages ;,21 cm.


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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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