Simply put it s because Yolen tries too hard to draw a parallel between the Charles Perrault tale of Briar Rose, a.
a The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, and the tribulations of Gemma Gitl Mandelstein, a now elderly survivor of the Holocaust who obsessive compulsively tells and retells the fairy tale to her three granddaughters, with the twist that she is in truth telling her own story of survival from the Chelmno concentration camp Not a bad idea, no In fact, very creative the third star I m awarding the book is purely a bonus point for creativity, as is my custom , but one simply fails to see how the tale and this story could possibly be interlinked believably The Briar Rose elements seem forced, artificially introduced where they don t belong Stuff like the barbed wire from the concentration camp standing up for the thornbushes covering the entrance to Sleeping Beauty s castle seem like going too far with a metaphor stuff like the Prince who awakens Briar Rose from the sleeping curse being forcefully likened to a gay adopted nobleman fighting with the Partisans as well, and so on and so forth It s as if you painted a collar made of wooden beads to look like genuine pearls At a distance, it might look like the wooden beads are pearls, but if you get close or touch it, you will see the fakeness That s exactly what happens here, the parallels between the tale and Gemma s story work only if the readers force themselves to see the parallels, and since the blurb already says it s meant as a Sleeping Beauty retelling, then the Aha, I see it moments are induced from the exterior and don t come naturally from reading the book You spot it s Sleeping Beauty because you were told it s Sleeping Beauty.
That it s structured like a mystery for Gemma s youngest granddaughter to solve doesn t help the story, because the characterisation ends up rather unsatisfactory the story comes to us filtered through other characters, incomplete, sketchy and in the form of flashback to the past that comes from testimony instead of from sending the reader to see the past Showing the past and giving us Gemma s perspective might ve helped, I suspect.
Becca has grown up hearing her grandmother called Gemma because one of her granddaughters couldn t pronounce grandma tell the story of Sleeping Beauty to her and her sisters Gemma s story is different from the widely known version, however in this one, Briar Rose has red hair like Gemma and lives in a castle where everyone falls asleep after an evil fairy sends a mist over everyone When the prince comes to the castle, he kisses Sleeping Beauty, but she is the only one who wakes up When Gemma is on her deathbed, she gives Becca a cryptic instruction Promise me you will find the castle Promise me you will find the prince Promise me you will find the maker of the spells Her grandmother s belongings, including a locked chest with a rose carved into the top, eventually lead Becca to Poland, and she begins to understand that the story of Briar Rose is actually the story of her grandmother s experiences during the Holocaust The word haunting doesn t really do this story justice It s creepy and depressing and compelling, and I m willing to overlook Jane Yolen s horrible dialogue they re called contractions, Yolen no one says I am instead of I m because of it.
For me, the best parts of the story were told in Gemma s own voice, when Becca is remembering pieces of the Briar Rose story her grandmother told her The little details that get changed, to let us know that there s something else to this story, are amazing Here s my favorite Gemma is telling Becca about the evil fairy that cursed Briar Rose and describes her as, the one in black with big black boots and silver eagles on her hat she said, I curse you, Briar Rose I curse you and your father the king and your mother the queen and all your uncles and cousins and aunts And all the people in your village And all the people who bear your name That little detail about the silver eagles had to be mentioned a second time in the story before I figured it out the Nazis wore black boots and had silver eagles on their uniforms The evil fairy is the Nazis.
Sweet tapdancing Christ, that s creepy read for Social Justice in Young Adult Literature This novel retells a segment of the holocaust through the lens of a family story masquerading as a fairy tale This device was interesting and ambitious, but it fell flat I had a little trouble determine the intended audience for this book The viewpoint character is a young woman, a recent college graduate still living at home At one point, we are gratuitously informed that she had watched one of the soft porn movies on late night tv But the simplicity of the language suggested a younger readership I think the biggest disappointment is that the viewpoint character is supposed to be on a search to understand her Gemma s story At the end of the book, the reader has been told a series of facts, but does not really understand Gemma the woman any better than at the beginning.
I have always loved fairy tales, and their retellings, ever since I got my hands on a complete collection of Grimm s Fairy Tales So I was excited to find this retelling of Sleeping Beauty that is, of all things, also a Holocaust story Becca is the 3rd daughter third very important in fairy tales of a Jewish family, whose grandmother, known to them as Gemma, has slipped into senility and finally dies On her deathbed, Gemma makes Becca promise to track down her inheritance the truth of the story of her life Which, she insists, is that she is Briar Rose All of Becca s childhood memories are tied up with her grandmother s telling of this tale always the same, and always compelling And so she begins to track down her grandmother s story which leads back to an extermination camp in Poland, and a heartbreaking story there I was fascinated by Jane Yolen s ability to envision Briar Rose in a Holocaust setting, and I feel haunted by the story she wove I would hesitate, however, over calling this a Young Adult read mostly because, in the third section of the book, the themes become very difficult, and often very adult the man who narrates that portion is in the camps because he is homosexual, so there are several descriptions of his lifestyle that many would be uncomfortable with It is a book I would have read as a teenager and been okay with, but others may not be.
Wow I read it in one day and that is unusual for me I couldn t put it down It s different from what I was expecting, I guess because her The Devil s Arithmetic had a young teen protagonist and had of a speculative fiction aspect, and I was afraid this would be pure fairy tale However, this story is not fantasy but modern day historical fiction Holocaust fiction, with fictional aspects added to Holocaust events with a made up small group of people and one person in particular It also works as psychological fiction Yes, the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale has its place here, and I saw a bit of Cinderella too.
It s gorgeously told, sometimes horrifying and heartbreaking, sometimes even fun at times It is an incredibly upsetting Holocaust story I m fine with the made up part All historical fiction must do this to some extent I did appreciate the author s short note at the end where she does explain what the facts and what was fictionalized The author s note was a needed inclusion, though her deviation from what s known is not 100% impossible, in my opinion I don t want to give too much away except I will say that Becca is a lovely character and Gemma is a fascinating character, and the story is beautifully told This book is definitely for teens and adults and not children as the violence of the Holocaust is told in quite a bit of detail.
I can t believe I waited so long to get to this one I m really happy that I finally read it.
I never read much Young Adult fiction before joining Goodreads because it never occurred to me that some of it could appeal to an adult reader But that was then and this is now and while the majority of my book choices are still geared toward an adult audience, I m certainly open to YA as a possible source for enjoyment than I ever used to be I m glad because this book was a winner.
A lot of YA tends to oversimplify certain things and this was no exception, however, since the intended audience is young readers that isn t a bad thing The story was instantly addicting, it was a lightning fast read and when I noticed the original copyright was 1992, I wished this book could have appeared in the curriculum of my 8th grade English class during the month we studied the Holocaust in 1992 The main character is Becca Berlin, a 23 year old journalist who has just lost her grandmother, Gemma Gemma had always been secretive about the past and no one in the family even knew her real name, let alone where she came from or how she came to be in the United States The only piece of information she had consistently maintained was that she, Gemma, was Briar Rose, the princess of the beloved fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty On her death bed, Gemma asked Becca to discover the truth.
The story that follows is impossible to put down and leads Becca on a 3 week trip to Poland where she discovers the truth about princes and princesses and castles and Holocaust victims and survivors Jews and non Jews alike If my child is a reader and ever finds him or herself studying the Holocaust during school, I could see myself suggesting this book for further reading My husband grew up Christian but his grandfather on his dad s side of the family is Jewish and a survivor of a Nazi camp in Germany So that history is in his her blood and for young readers, this book is approachable and emotionally touching I could see this book make history meaningful for young readers.
25 5 starsthis just seems like a good idea, poorly executed the writing style reminded me a lot of nancy drew for some reason maybe because of how frequently it described appearances but it was wordier and try hardier it was super boring and disappointing the payoff of the reveal was not even close to worth it the romance was gross and deeply unnecessary this was not a fun reading experience AT ALL.
bottom line do not recommend bleh.
Wonderful book for young readersgrades 6 8 A fun story about a young girl who learns about her grandmother s true identity through the content of a box her grandmother leaves her If you enjoyed and you will enjoy it I was going to add to the list and as fantastic and education the Night is, its not really for young Adult Briar Rose is perfect for the YA format.
Set in the present day with flashbacks to the Holocaust, it is an unforgettable story Yolen skillfully weaves Gemma s recounting of the Briar Rose story with what really happened and it is heartbreaking and moving The novel is filled with great characters Becca, who agrees to find out Gemma s story and pledges to do so no matter what Stan, her editor who encourages her to do so Magda, the irrepressible Polish girl who helps Becca Josef Potoki, who fills in many of the blanks in Gemma s life his story is one of the most moving parts of the book and of course Gemma herself as her story unfolds Also playing a powerful part in the novel is the visit to Chelmno not only the place itself but the reaction of the people living near there to the visitors Gemma and Josef s stories are moving in many ways a reminder of how much people lost during the Holocaust The discoveries that Becca makes about Gemma and also the ones that she is unable to make are heartbreaking, yet heartwarming.