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Briar Rose: A Novel of the Holocaust (Fairy Tales) Hardcover – November 12, 2019
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Jane Yolen’s classic novel of memory, stories, and the Holocaust--now in a beautiful pocket-sized hardcover edition--is a powerful retelling of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty that is "heartbreaking and heartwarming."
An American Library Association "100 Best Books for Teens"
An American Library Association "Best Books for Young Adults"
Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma's stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma's astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.
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“Terrifically moving.” ―The Washington Post
“Yolen takes the story of Briar Rose and links it to the Holocaust--a far from obvious connection that she makes perfectly convincing...Only a writer as good as Yolen could bring it off.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, Yolen's novel is a compelling reminder of the Holocaust as well as a contemporary tale of secrets and romance.” ―Booklist
“Showcases Yolen's skill at transforming the real world into a realm of fantasy.” ―Library Journal
About the Author
- Publisher : Tor Books; Reprint edition (November 12, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250242738
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250242730
- Reading age : 16 - 18 years
- Lexile measure : 820L
- Grade level : 10 - 12
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.5 x 1.01 x 7.43 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #418,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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I have read that many survivors of the Holocaust prefer not to talk about their experience. In this case, the survivor turned it into a fictionalized tale that she told to her granddaughters. The youngest is determined to get to the root of her grandma's story.. I highly recommend this book.
The French gave us the word plot through "plait," which refers to the unraveling the reader must do as she reads. Imagine a plait of cloth lying horizontally with the loose part on the left (reading occurs left to right) as a closed book. Open the book, read and unravel, read and unravel. This is the task Gemma has given Becca: Unravel the past. The family knows nothing of Gemma's past. Her only clue is the fairy tale: Briar Rose, a new telling of Sleeping Beauty.
The audience knows the power of fairy tales to hide universal truths, that sometimes an external force, in the form of a handsome prince, defeats evil characters and their spells, and sometimes the inner power of the character is the impetus. Jane Yolen's brilliant retelling of Sleeping Beauty through Gemma's tale, is one novel in the Fairy Tales series begun by Terry Windling, in which writers retell a fairy tale in a modern setting. In this tale is hidden the evil of the Holocaust in one hideous castle run by Nazis, and one princess, Briar Rose, awakened by the power of a kiss. No more than that will I tell.
Yolen employs a favorite literary device in Gemma's telling of the tale. In the beginning chapters the reader is supposedly given the finished plait of the story. As Becca begins her quest in discovering the truth, Yolen begins unraveling the story, revealing one hidden fact, and another, and another, until finally toward the end the story is fully revealed and the reader is left gasping at its truth.
Because Becca is a reporter, she knows how to uncover the truth. With the help of her handsome boss, Becca begins her task. A major truth she learns about him before she leaves for Poland is that he is adopted but had his own quest of learning who his birth mother is. Is it necessary to know this truth? Is it better to leave some truths unknown? This is the crux of Yolen's book: Are there some truths better left unknown? Think of that plait. We read a book because we want to unravel the plot and get at the truth of the story. The handsome boss had to know his truth, Becca had to know her Gemma's story, and in the end learns her own identity.
This is one of the most satisfactory Holocaust novels/stories I have ever read, not because it has a happy ending (it does and it doesn't), but because the way Yolen unravels the truth through first one thread then another. If this seems enigmatic, that is what Yolen wants--sometimes finding the truth is tricky and difficult. For many reasons this is an excellent book for girls 9-12, depending on their maturity. This is not a sanitized Walt Disney Sleeping Beauty, but an old-fashioned one in which evil is what it is, but that truth can be liberating.
Jane Yolen does a great job of weaving in the story through the fairy tale, but I couldn't help but wish she could have just told the grandmother's story straight out. But I know she did it for a publisher who wanted a series of novels build around those classic fairy tales. She's an excellent writer. My grandkids loved her kids' book titled Sleeping Ugly, another take on Sleeping Beauty.
Eunice Boeve, author of Ride a Shadowed Trail and soon to be released sequel, Crossed Trails.
Only issue is I ordered several of them in different time. Every time I ordered, the price went up.
Top reviews from other countries
Not for adults. At least not this adult. The writing is very basic, the characters are quite simplistic, even those who are supposed to have suffered & harbor secrets &/or depths unknown.
I didn't really care for it, but can see that it might have some value in introducing literature about the Holocaust to young readers. I would encourage my daughter to read this while quite young -- say at 13. However, there are many other books, young adult/junior lit, that are much better at introducing the subject matter.
In short-brilliant. Go get it :)
A familiar fairy tale woven into modern day and the horror of the Holocaust.
The book arrived quickly and in good condition.