When the novel opens, Hannah is complaining about having to go to a Seder hosted by her survivor relatives. Her grandfather Will frightens her by yelling at the TV set whenever footage of the camps comes on; once, when she used a ballpoint pen to ink a copy of his tattoo on her arm, thinking it would please him, he screamed at her in Yiddish. At the Seder, a little tipsy from the watered-down wine she has been allowed to drink, Hannah opens the apartment door to welcome the prophet Elijah—a key moment in the Seder ritual—and finds herself transported to Poland in Do you understand?
They kill people. They killed—kill—will kill Jews. Six million of them! I know. We have to turn the wagons around.
We have to run! God is everywhere. There will always be Nazis among us. A person is not killed here, but chosen. They are not cremated in the ovens, they are processed. To resort to fantasy, he said, trivialized the Holocaust. Yolen, too, in an article describing her rationale, emphasized the importance of personal identification.
Let that protagonist ask the questions our young people all want to ask. The answers they get from the folk in the story will astound them, shake them into new awarenesses, really let them remember and be part of history. Although it won numerous awards, no teacher or librarian ever gave it to me.
The only way to do that is through magic, which is precisely the consolation Yolen gives Hannah. The once-sullen preteen ends the book not only appreciating her relatives and their stories but for the first time truly understanding them. Situated in a bucolic area of northern Poland, Chelmno was not a camp so much as a mobile killing factory. Prisoners were brought to the mansion of an empty estate, stripped of their clothes and possessions, and loaded into trucks that held around eighty people, standing.
As the trucks were driven, carbon monoxide flooded the compartment holding the prisoners. They were dead by the time the trucks reached their destination—a forest where mass graves awaited. Barbed wire could stand in for the briars, and gassing for the hundred-year slumber. The difficulty would be finding a figure corresponding to the princess who reawakens: there were only a handful of known Chelmno survivors, none of them female. And there came a great dark mist and we all fell asleep. But the prince kissed me awake.
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When Becca was little, Gemma told her the story over and over again. On her deathbed, she makes Becca, now an aspiring journalist in her early twenties, promise to find the castle. Becca travels to Chelmno to solve the mystery. A haunting, beautiful read. Though it's framed in the Sleeping Beauty tale, that's not really what the story is about in the end. But a lovely, exquisitely written book.
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Heartbreaking and yet hopeful. Oct 13, Audrey rated it did not like it Shelves: just-terrible , s , fiction , listens , young-adult-fiction , europe , wwii , waste-of-time. I wish I had explored more reviews of this book before reading it. I'm usually pretty careful about that, because I don't want to waste my time on a worthless book. Well, this one was totally different than what I expected.
I should've been more careful. First of all, I thought it would take place more in the s than the s. But, okay, that was fine once I got used to it. My main problem was that the worldview of this book is just steeped in the perspective of a secular, depraved, post-mode I wish I had explored more reviews of this book before reading it.
My main problem was that the worldview of this book is just steeped in the perspective of a secular, depraved, post-modern society. There was a nonchalant reference to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy brief, but troublingly presented as oh-so-normal and validated. There were also some sexual references and swearing. However, the main thing that I had no idea about when I picked up this book was the homosexual content. The protagonist is friends with an openly lesbian former professor and, later on, there are graphic depictions of the completely promiscuous affairs of another homosexual character.
I definitely would not have read this book if I had known about this. I don't want to turn this review into a debate on homosexuality, but it's not that I hate people with same-sex attraction or believe that they should be persecuted. For more about what I believe on this issue, see this this link. Objectionable content aside, the method of storytelling with flashbacks often felt repetitive.
Everything was quite obvious, and I had most of the clues put together long before the protagonist did not always the case with me. Another thing I couldn't figure out was, considering all the time she spent with her grandmother before she died, why had Becca never just straight out asked her about her past? The writing was really odd at times, too. For example, a face was described as looking like "parchment that had been written over and scraped down too many times.
Another person was said to have eyebrows like a "demented dove. Doves have eyebrows? Also, the fact that random people popped up making fairy tale references felt a bit forced. For example, the stranger on the plane telling Becca that, because she hadn't traveled much, she was like Sleeping Beauty. What does not traveling much have to do with that particular fairy tale? As a further incidental note, there is no attempt made at subtly veiling the author's and characters' political leanings. One character shoots rubber bands at a photo of the first George Bush. I started by listening to this on audio book, but I didn't love the narrator.
I ended up continuing through Chapter 23, and then once I found out about the homosexual content, I basically just skimmed the rest of the book about 90 pages. Overall, the book was a waste of time. View all 8 comments. Dec 07, haley marked it as never-finished. DNF at page I wanted to love this. I really did. The cover is gorgeous and I really enjoy fairytale retellings.
But this just did not work for me at all. The writing was dull and dry, Becca was so uninteresting, and the story is just not what I expected at all. So I'm putting this one down. Maybe I'll come back to it? But probably not. Not since Bitter Greens and Deathless have I read a fairy-tale retelling that truly embraced the power of historical context. I think one of the best types of retellings understands that fairy tales were not written or read in a vacuum. Much like horror stories, fairy tales have always explored the tellers' fears and desires, and often subverted mainstream societal norms and constraints.
By choosing to blend history whether real or imagined with fairy tale, the retelling gains a quasi-realis Not since Bitter Greens and Deathless have I read a fairy-tale retelling that truly embraced the power of historical context. By choosing to blend history whether real or imagined with fairy tale, the retelling gains a quasi-realism and authenticity that both enthralls and educates. Maybe even inspires the reader to search out non-fiction based on actual people, places and events.
Having said that, the fairy tale in Yolen's book was not being retold as much as it was being used as the catalyst for a granddaughter's research into her grandmother's history, a past her Gemma never spoke directly about. She would instead tell her three granddaughters the tale of Sleeping Beauty. And at the end of her life, their Gemma began telling them that she was Sleeping Beauty, that it was her story. Of course, most of the family thought her senile, possibly demented. But with her dying breath Gemma begged her youngest and favorite granddaughter, Becca, to find "the castle.
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Yolen went dark, we're talking pitch black, with her retelling of this well-known tale of Sleeping Beauty. What else would a reader expect when the jacket blurb includes the word Holocaust? How could anyone actually expect anything less than brutal and heartbreaking? My advice to anyone looking for fluffy fairy tales: skip this book. However, if you're looking for a mix of historical fiction and fairy tale, or an exploration into how fairy tales and stories or fiction in general might be used by someone to cope with tragedy, read this book! I was shocked at the multiple reviews I read that condemned this book for its inclusion of homosexuality.
Were readers unaware of the fact that homosexuals were also persecuted in the Holocaust? Or throughout history? I did not remember reading anything "graphic" in Briar Rose, so I went back and re-read Josef's story. First, though, reviewers commented on Becca having a lesbian friend. That's it. Just having a lesbian friend was offensive to those reviewers.
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Second, Josef Potocki's part of the story, "Castle," which reviewers said had "graphic" descriptions of the character's "promiscuity" and gay sex. There were brief references to losing his virtue in college, to being in his lover's arms. I counted three lovers over a span of several years, perhaps even a decade. Here's the only "graphic" description I found. Josef was talking about his lover, a Viennese politician, "They made love during Hitler's victory speech, a horrible, angry, passionate thrusting, that left Josef bruised and somewhat stunned.
He had planned to have a long talk with his lover about being more gentle the next morning. But when he woke, he found the man dead in the marble bath, his wrists still bleeding soft red lines into the tub He was a friend of Father Stashu, the priest at the church in present day Chelmno. I was able to easily glean that information during my first reading. I was saddened to read those people's reviews. It breaks my heart for those reviewers to hold so much hate in their hearts. Yet their ignorance and intolerance reminded me that we're still a long way away from the world I dream of, one in which everyone is allowed the freedom to be who they are and one in which differences are celebrated instead of persecuted.
Mar 28, Jalilah rated it really liked it Shelves: folk-fairy-tales-and-mythology , mythic-fiction. This is certainly is a very powerful novel. I am happy to have I read it, but I have mixed feelings. This was very well done! Unfortunately there were many smaller details that were irksome and they prevented me from fully enjoying and appreciating the novel as I would have liked to. After her grandmother's death Becca suspects her grandmother was a WW2 refugee and Holocaust survivor.
In order to find out more information she travels to Poland. I have read that Polish readers say there are a lot of inaccuracies. This is disappointing! I feel strongly that if authors are going to write about a culture that is not their own they have to research properly. Furthermore Becca arrives in Poland not speaking a word of Polish and the first thing she does when she arrives is correct her guides English!
So rude and condescending! If it were not for these things I would have rated this novel higher. In spite of its flaws I still highly recommend it. Written in the 90s it's definitely still relevant today! Sep 01, Linda Lipko rated it it was amazing. This book is marvelously crafted and it is one of the best I've read this year. It is a masterpiece of haunting beauty. Though it was told in a much different rendition than the Disney interpretation, as a child Becca and her three sisters repeatedly heard the story of Briar Rose by their grandmother.
Becca, the youngest sister was enthralled by her grandmother's storytelling abilities. In real life, very little was known of Gemma, other than she insisted she was a princess rescued by a prince who This book is marvelously crafted and it is one of the best I've read this year. In real life, very little was known of Gemma, other than she insisted she was a princess rescued by a prince who broke through the thorns of the castle wherein all were silent and asleep. The Prince then kissed her and woke her from deep sleep. On her deathbed Becca's Polish immigrant grandmother pleaded with her to "find the castle.
Weaving the tale of Briar Rose and the Holocaust, Yolen vividly depicts the horror at Chelmno, Poland where from , , people were gassed and buried in mass graves. Fairytales do not always have happy endings.
But, while this book covers a terrible tragedy, it is also a tale of courage, of sacrifice and the power of redemption. Jan 14, Shannon rated it it was ok Shelves: youngadult , historical-fiction.
Briar Rose is a re-imagining of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Unfortunately, it wasn't the retelling I was hoping for. I had hoped for either a new and adult take on a fairy tale, or a new look at an old story that I could share with my 10 and 12 year old daughters.
This book provided neither. Here's what it did give me: a way to see how fairy tales tell us more about real life than we might imagine. Briar Rose tells the story of Becca, a 23 year old journalist whose grandmother, Gemma, always Briar Rose is a re-imagining of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Briar Rose tells the story of Becca, a 23 year old journalist whose grandmother, Gemma, always claimed to be Sleeping Beauty from the story. Becca sets out to find out the real story of her grandmother.
Becca's questions take her to Poland, where she learns the story behind the fairy tale. As with many stories from this time in our world's history, the fairy tale was easier than Gemma's own story. I have found that good young adult fiction reads as well - and as deeply - as adult fiction. But some YA fiction like Briar Rose , tells the story too summarily, crafts the characters out of cardboard rather than flesh and blood and leaves me looking at a book that held a kernel that could have grown into a beautiful novel, but fell a bit short.
Mar 08, Shanon rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction , stand-alone. This is a very moving tale about a woman trying to find her Grandmother's history. Becca's Grandmother, known as Gemma to her family, loves to share the tale of Briar Rose Sleeping Beauty and insists she is, in fact, Briar Rose herself. Becca agrees and is quickly surrounded by all the This is a very moving tale about a woman trying to find her Grandmother's history.
Becca agrees and is quickly surrounded by all the terrors of the Holocaust. I read this book as a group read without much, if any, research. I am so glad I did because this is one of those stories that will stick with me for a long time. I am surprised that so many people have this shelved as Fantasy. It is simply a fairy tale retelling with no fantasy elements at all. Jane Yolen has created a version of the classic fairy tale that feels so true to the history of the Holocaust as well as true to the fairy tale. I believe the Grimm brothers would be proud.
Readers also enjoyed. Young Adult. About Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen. Born and raised in New York City, the mother of three and the grandmother of six, Yolen lives in Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland. Books by Jane Yolen. Trivia About Briar Rose. Quotes from Briar Rose. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Into the Forest: Briar Rose spoilers allowed. Into the Forest: Briar Rose no spoilers.
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Find out in this fun creative commons picture book from book dash. The Three Doof-Doofs tells a delightful tale of Sally, Solly, and Silly, three cute little creatures that are responsible for the Doof-Doof sounds you might hear when tucked up in bed. A perfect bedtime story to entertain and alleviate worries about thumps in the dark.
The first in the series, The Cubby House, is an adventure involving chocolate seas and vanilla ice bergs and lots of other …. How the Children Became Stars is a collection of 52 fables and folk tales from all over the world. The folk tales provide important morals and life lessons, and help foster an understanding of other cultures.
Each folk tale has an activity at the end, which makes it perfect for classroom or home-school use, and …. Categories: Bedtime Stories , Text from book. Joe Corcoran. Bunnies from the Future is an action packed, and incredibly hilarious, middle-grade science fiction. With battles to save the earth and flying lessons combined with cute bunnies and heart warming talking plants, the story that has something for everyone. City of stories describes a sad city without any stories, then like floods after a drought, a city with too many stories, and finally finding balance.
Nobody in the city has time to tell a story, until Didi and a little girl start a tidal wave of stories, that washes over everybody. A fascinating fable …. The story of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter is a tale which has entertained children for generations. Raggedy Ann Stories, abridged and adapted from the original, contains 13 short stories about the classic rag doll and her friends. The text is from the US government English language department and is accompanied a picture glossary, and questions to aid comprehension.
The language has been simplified for high-beginning level English language learners with vocabulary …. Brothers Grimm.