by Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen's Briar Rose intertwines the story of Sleeping Beauty with that of the Holocaust. Its main character is Rebecca, who as a child always wanted to hear her grandmother's retellings of the fairy tale. On her deathbed, Gemma made a statement "I am Briar Rose" that haunts Rebecca. She's convinced that the story was not just a fairy tale, but a complex metaphor keeping alive the truth of her grandmother's past while masking its horror- that she was a Holocaust survivor. Rebecca sets off on a journey to Poland, seeking to uncover the secrets of Gemma's history- and finds out more than she ever expected.
Briar Rose is different than other Holocaust stories I've read. Besides the fact that it is wrapped up in a fairy tale and rooted in a modern setting that pivots back into the past, it also tells of one of the less famous concentration camps- Chelmno (a short afterward explains the facts behind the story, particularly about Chelmno). Gemma is Jewish, but the book also features other groups of people who suffered from the Holocaust, namely homosexuals. I wish this book had been more memorable for me. There are other books by Jane Yolen which I read more than four years ago and still recall the storyline and characters clearly. This one is rather blurry in my mind. I remember mostly that it was very sad. Looking it over again today, I almost want to set down what I'm currently reading and open Briar Rose. It's a book I really need to revisit for myself. I think this is one I would appreciate better as an adult.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 241 pages, 1992
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