Linda Lipko's Reviews > Briar Rose

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
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Sep 01, 09

Read in February, 2009

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 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."

Discovering fragments of her grandmother's history in a box left behind, Becca undertakes an incredible journey to Poland where she learns of the brutality inflicted on the innocent at an extermination camp that was housed in a schloss (castle.)

Weaving the tale of Briar Rose and the Holocaust, Yolen vividly depicts the horror at Chelmno, Poland where from 1942-1945, 320,000 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.
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