I read this book for the first time when I was on a car trip, and it stuck with me. Reading it again a good 7 years later, I can see why. Briar Rose is incredibly haunting and the premise sticks with you for a long time.
I can already tell (finished this book yesterday) that Briar Rose is going to be a book that stays with me. Yolen tells such an amazing story - both heartbreaking and hopeful. Her story is unlike any retelling of Sleeping Beauty I've ever read. I highly recommend it.
Not a book for children. Some may disagree but it is my opinion. There are too many adult situations for a younger audience. That said, Miss Yolen brings an intriguing story to paper that comes to a complete ending. I like the way she pulls the story together chapter by chapter, never giving any thing away until necessary.
I really like fairy tale retellings, so I was eager to read this book. It is a good book, but not so much about fairy tales as about the Holocaust and one girl's struggle to uncover her grandmothers past.
Becca's grandmother, Gemma, always tells the story of Sleeping Beauty. As Gemma ages and gets sick, the story of Sleeping Beauty is the only thing she ever says. When Gemma passes she leaves a mysterious box of trinkets for Becca. Becca has promised to track down her grandmother's past and uses the box of clippings and trinkets to find out the story of her grandmother who thought she was a Polish Princess.
This was a very well-written book and a very interesting idea. When I realized that this was a book that merged the story of Sleeping Beauty with the Holocaust I was a bit taken aback. I mean the origins of fairy tales are never pretty, but I can't think of an uglier time in human history than the Holocaust. The chapters alternate between short snippets of Gemma reciting her version of Sleeping Beauty and chapters following Becca's journey to find out what happened to Gemma.
More than anything this is a fairly accurate fictional accounting of events that happened during the Holocaust; as you might expect this makes for a somewhat sad, depressing, and distressing read. This story is much more about history, the origins of fairy tales in general, and human nature than it is about Sleeping Beauty. While there are some echoes of hope throughout the book, the majority of it explores the evils of the Holocaust and the struggles people went through during that time. The renditions of some of the actions taken by the Nazis are disturbing and accurate, although not overly gory.
The story itself is very engaging and hard to put down as you are struggling to guess what Becca will find out about her grandmother. All in all it was a good read, just not necessarily a pleasant one. I have read works by Yolen before and her writing style is excellent; I am not used to her dealing with such a serious topic.
Overall, this was an excellent read. People should be prepared more for a different variation of Holocaust events than a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. This book is about so much more than fairy tales. Yolen also has a brief afterward telling which events in the book really happened and which she fabricated to meet the stories needs. For those of you who have read enough about the Holocaust to know how truly disturbing it was; you may want to skip this. I do think that everyone should be exposed to the horrors of those times though so that they are remembered...and this book does an excellent job of doing that while pulling readers through anintriguing story at the same time.
An installment in Terri Windling's "Fairy Tale Series."
This book is not actually a fairy tale or fantasy at all... it deals with a young woman searching for the truth about her grandmother's life. The grandmother had always been loving, but a little bit eccentric, and obsessed with the story of Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose. Her granddaughter, Becca, makes her a deathbed promise to 'find the castle,' which she interprets as a request to find out the truth of how the metaphor of Sleeping Beauty applied to her grandmother's life. Her research takes her to Poland, and the site of one of the Nazis' most horrific extermination camps.
Overall, this was a very good book, but I thought Becca's character was both just a little bit too saintly and too innocent.
Her sisters were treated rather harshly for essentially, being normal.
Also, Yolen's portrayal of Poland seemed to me to be a little bit out of date for 1992 - and as someone who loves old Europe, her portrayal of the country seemed somewhat uncharitable.
I preferred the parts of the book that had to do with the events of the 1940s much more - the narrator of that part of the story, Josef, was much more interesting to me.
The story is interesting in concept but very watered down to what it could have been. The plot is forced, character development is not only incomplete, but I found the characters dull, flat and one-dimensional. This book had great potential but for me I couldn't finish it. There are many more books worth my time than this one.
My son had to read this book for school. I though it sounded interesting, so I read it. Excellent book. "The bright tale of sleeping beauty, the dark tale of the holocaust--twined together in a story you will never forget."
Fairy tale mixed with WWII & Holocaust revelations. A good story with a bit of history mixed in. A bit of romance and a bit of family tales. This book takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and mixes it up with real life.
This was a very different book than any of the other holocaust memoirs and stories I have read. I wasn't as blown away by this novel as I was by her "devil's arithmetic" this book is nothing like that! This is a very contemporary view. It covers not only the jewish element of the holocaust, but there is significant coverage given to the homosexual side of the issue and also a passing nod at Jehovah's Witnesses, although that is only fleeting. I wasn't impressed by her melding of the fairy tale and the story of the grandmother, it was a fabulous literary device, but her final climax fell flat for me. I am glad that someone is writing more about the polish extermination camps in the east, but somehow this seems not as well done. I definately would preview this even if giving to a teenager as some of the scenes are graphic, and not just about Nazi Violence but also homosexuality. 3 Stars, it was okay.
In Briar Rose, Yolen retells the story of Sleeping Beauty. The plot begins with Becca visiting with her ailing grandmother before she passes away. Her grandmother always told the tale of Briar Rose but as she dies, proclaims that she is indeed Briar Rose. Becca's sisters pass the words off as an old woman's rants but Becca takes the words to heart and begins to investigate her grandmother's past. Becca's quest takes her to Germany where, after a lot of digging, she discovers the truth in her grandmother's words.
This is a beautiful and haunting tale and Yolen is a wonderful storyteller. The story does deal with the Holocaust and because it is young adult literature it deals with mature themes so readers should be advised. I highly recommend this book, especially for fans of fairy tales!
This is a good book for people who want to make a connection to Fairy Tales and modern literature or those who are interested in the travesties of WWII. It has a few polish words that are explained when you read them. However, people who know Poland and the Polish language might find it funny that Yolen calls the city of Woodts Lodz. You see in Polish has an L with a cross hatch through it that makes the W sound. This is often confused with the L, which is an L in Polish. It won't take away from the book at all though. I loved it and have recommended it to my friends.
I read this book when I was in middle school and over the years I have remembered it and wanted to read it again. I'm sure that I will not stop, having read it twice already. It is a quick read but it is also such a good book that shows such a different style to understanding the holocaust.
The grim realities presented in this story did not mesh well with the fairy tale it was supposed to be based off of. I admire the author for trying to take an old story and ground it in reality (and provide a fresh outlook), but that's not what people read fairy tales for. Or at least, i felt this version detracted from the story it hailed from. In short: interesting but no.
I didn't exactly mean to read this in one sitting, but that is just what happened! This book is loosely based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, but is set in Poland during WWII. The history is tragic and the writing is pretty solid, but there is a definite loss of magic that should be at the heart of every fairy tale - retold or not. Still, I did enjoy it.
Briar Rose was a little slow to get into, but considering it is a short book it didn't take too long. The story that was told was heart breaking and horrifying. It was only made worse by the knowledge that it was based on actual events. This is not to say that the book was not good, it was, just be prepared, there is no happily ever after to Briar Rose.