As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

February 12, 2013

BRIAR ROSE by Jane Yolen, 1988

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. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Julie, Children's Lit. enthusiast and pop culture geek

Jane Yolen’s BRIAR ROSE retells the fairy tale of “Sleeping Beauty” in the unlikeliest of ways.  Ever since she was a child, twenty-two year old Gemma was fascinated by her grandmother’s own version of “Sleeping Beauty.”  When her grandmother passes away, her last words are as cryptic as they are stunning: “I am Briar Rose.”  This revelation sends Gemma on a journey to Poland, where she is determined to learn about how her grandmother survived a concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Yolen expertly weaves elements of a classic fairy tale with one of the darkest, most frightening times in history.  “Sleeping Beauty” eventually falls to the backdrop of this war story, a tale of loss, fear, and ultimately survival; yet, “Sleeping Beauty” is what also ties these scenes together.  Gemma’s research and travel to discover the truth behind her grandmother feel like attempts to solve a mystery hidden deep within history—and readers will be thrilled to accompany her the entire way.  A real page turner, with beautiful language and a richly complex story of flashbacks and present day attempts to understand the past, “Briar Rose” is a bittersweet story readers won’t soon forget.

Market: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Language: Mild
Violence: Depicts the stark reality of WWII and the Holocaust, can be graphic for young readers
Sensuality:  Moderate, including discussions of homosexual characters
Adult Themes:  Death, war, grief, the Holocaust

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