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Briar Rose

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  13,531 ratings  ·  1,488 reviews
A powerful retelling of 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
Hardcover, The Fairy Tale Series, 241 pages
Published March 15th 2002 by Tor for Teen (first published September 1st 1992)
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Sarah Page 106:
She attempted a smile. "Fairy tales always have a happy ending."
He leaned back in his chair. "That depends."
"On what?"
"On whether you ar…more
Page 106:
She attempted a smile. "Fairy tales always have a happy ending."
He leaned back in his chair. "That depends."
"On what?"
"On whether you are Rumplestiltskin or the Queen."(less)
Mckenzie Tucker My library teacher told me that you can download it on Amazon Fire or Ebook

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,531 ratings  ·  1,488 reviews

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Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-english
I'm really, really disturbed by the majority of two star reviews here dismissing the book because of its LGBT content. It's been two years since I read it, so I don't exactly remember how graphic it was, but if I had to make an educated guess it wasn't half as graphic as your average heterosexual romance novel.

Let me be clear here: I didn't like this book. At all. I didn't like it because the Holocaust story seemed tacked on and deliberately made to fit the fairy tale for dramatic effect and tha
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Becca has grown up hearing her grandmother (called "Gemma" because one of her granddaughters couldn't pronounce "grandma") tell the story of Sleeping Beauty to her and her sisters. Gemma's story is different from the widely-known version, however - in this one, Briar Rose has red hair (like Gemma) and lives in a castle where everyone falls asleep after an evil fairy sends a mist over everyone. When the prince comes to the castle, he kisses Sleeping Beauty, but she is the only one who wakes up.

1.25/5 stars

this just seems like a good idea, poorly executed. the writing style reminded me a lot of nancy drew for some reason - maybe because of how frequently it described appearances? but it was wordier and try-hardier. it was super boring and disappointing. the payoff of the reveal was not even close to worth it; the romance was gross and deeply unnecessary. this was not a fun reading experience AT ALL.

bottom line: do not recommend. bleh.
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Wow! I read it in one day and that is unusual for me. I couldn’t put it down.

It’s different from what I was expecting, I guess because her The Devil’s Arithmetic had a young teen protagonist and had more of a speculative fiction aspect, and I was afraid this would be pure fairy tale. However, this story is not fantasy but modern day & historical fiction Holocaust fiction, with fictional aspects added to Holocaust events – with a made up small group of people and one person in particular. It als
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This novel retells a segment of the holocaust through the lens of a family story masquerading as a fairy tale. This device was interesting and ambitious, but it fell flat. I had a little trouble determine the intended audience for this book. The viewpoint character is a young woman, a recent college graduate still living at home. (At one point, we are gratuitously informed that she had watched one of the soft porn movies on late night tv.) But the simplicity of the language suggested a younger r ...more
Mmm, I'm very sorry to say that this is by far the most implausible retelling of a classic fairy tale that I've read recently, and not because of historical inaccuracies or bad writing.

Simply put: it's because Yolen tries too hard to draw a parallel between the Charles Perrault tale of Briar Rose, a.k.a. The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, and the tribulations of Gemma/Gitl Mandelstein, a now elderly survivor of the Holocaust who obsessive-compulsively tells and retells the fairy tale to her three
May 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I have always loved fairy tales, and their retellings, ever since I got my hands on a complete collection of Grimm's Fairy Tales. So I was excited to find this retelling of Sleeping Beauty that is, of all things, also a Holocaust story. Becca is the 3rd daughter (third--very important in fairy tales...)of a Jewish family, whose grandmother, known to them as Gemma, has slipped into senility and finally dies. On her deathbed, Gemma makes Becca promise to track down her inheritance--the truth--of t ...more
Dec 30, 2011 added it
Okay, I actually couldn't finish this because the writing was deeply awful (which is a shame, because I thought the plot was very interesting), but I have to post a review just so I can include the line that had me and my husband laughing ourselves silly. Real line, really included in this book, really not removed by her editor:

"Her eyebrows worked independently of one another, which gave her the look of a slightly demented dove." (Followed by: "Becca decided she liked that.")

So many questions r
I never read much Young Adult fiction before joining Goodreads because it never occurred to me that some of it could appeal to an adult reader. But that was then and this is now and while the majority of my book choices are still geared toward an adult audience, I'm certainly more open to YA as a possible source for enjoyment than I ever used to be. I'm glad because this book was a winner.

A lot of YA tends to oversimplify certain things and this was no exception, however, since the intended audi
Chris Horsefield
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book for young readers...grades 6-8. A fun story about a young girl who learns about her grandmother's true identity through the content of a box her grandmother leaves her. If you enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne , The Edelweiss Express (Edelweiss Pirates #2) by Mark A. Cooper , The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak you will enjoy it. I was going to add Night (The Night Trilogy, #1) by Elie Wiesel to the list and as fantastic and education the 'Night' is, its not really for young Adult. Briar Rose is perfect for the YA format.
Set in the present day with flashbacks to the Holocaust, it is an unforgettable story. Yolen skillful
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
You can always depend on Jane Yolen for excellent writing, but this is my absolute favorite of hers. She manages to combine the Holocaust, the Sleeping Beauty tale, and a young woman's memories of her grandmother into a really wonderful book. Very highly recommended. ...more
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

For as long as she can remember, Becca has been enamored, frightened, and captivated by her Grandmother Gemma's favorite story - that of Briar Rose, and the awful sleeping curse placed on her and all her people by the cruel fairy with black boots and emblazoned with silver eagles. As the years pass, while Becca's sisters start their own families and tire of Gemma's Sleeping Beauty story, Becca remains ever faithful and dedicated to her grandmother - even
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: faerytales
Review to come (eventually)
Dec 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in the holocaust over 14 or so
If you picked up this book thinking it was a fantasy/modern fairytale, you will be disappointed. There is NO fantasy, magic, magical creatures, alternate realities etc in this book. In fact, I almost didn't finish it because it seemed like a pretty standard piece of fluff for over half the book.
I am glad that I did finish it, though. The only reason I did was because I decided to look up some reviews to see what the deal was. I found this book looking for retelling of fairytales/fantasy type bo
Althea Ann
An installment in Terri Windling's "Fairy Tale Series."
This book is not actually a fairy tale or fantasy at all... it deals with a young woman searching for the truth about her grandmother's life. The grandmother had always been loving, but a little bit eccentric, and obsessed with the story of Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose. Her granddaughter, Becca, makes her a deathbed promise to 'find the castle,' which she interprets as a request to find out the truth of how the metaphor of Sleeping Beauty
Jeffe Kennedy
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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. Heartbreaking and yet hopeful. Recommend! ...more
Circus Folk
May 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
I am still baffled by the amount of rave reviews Briar Rose received. Admittedly, the story is very unique. The idea of comparing the Holocaust to the Sleeping Beauty fairytale may seem a bit far-fetched initially, yet Yolen manages to bring the truth of this parallel to light. Unfortunately, it was executed in a way that really detracted from what was formally an original idea. Instead we are left with a poorly written, confused, and mediocre young adult novel.

Many of the characters that popula
"Gemma" has told the tale of Briar Rose to her three granddaughters for as long as they can remember, but on her death bed, in a moment of lucidity, Gemma emphatically informs Becca that she actually is Briar Rose. A box full of Gemma's secret possessions leads Becca to unravel the mystery of her grandmother's past in a harrowing holocaust story.

Imaginative re-tellings of fairy tales can be hit or miss for me, but this book really caught my attention with the way it took the story of Sleeping B
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was not what I expected; a different approach to a fairy tale retelling. I had never heard of Chelmno prior to this book.
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 1940s than the 1990s. 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
Hmm, I first rated this 3 stars, now I'm debatting to downgrad it to 2 stars. The start was good, the ending wasn't too bad but the middle was seriously weak - I was not impressed (and I can't even be bothered to go into all the details).

Just a couple of things...
1) Once Becca got to Poland (and oh, wasn't that all so very easy all of a sudden?), she was just sooo annoying, constantly correcting Magda's English. Interestingly, Magda only seemed to have trouble constructing simple sentences in En
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Everyone likes a fairy tale story because everyone wants things to come out right in the end. And even though to tell a story is to tell some kind of untruth, one often suspects that what seems to be untruth is really a hidden truth.

Briar Rose is a new take on the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. Gemma loves telling her grandchildren the story of Sleeping Beauty. However on her death bed she reveals that she is Briar Rose and makes her granddaughter promise her to find the castle, find the p
Although it's loosely based on Sleeping Beauty it is not itself fairy-tale-like, and is set in modern times. Part of the action takes place in Nazi Germany and the plight of the Jews (the significance of the barbed wire on the cover photo). It's a good story, and although it's not all happy events I did like it very much. It's in my "to re-read" pile. ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a very strange mix of Sleeping Beauty retelling and a Holocaust survival story. Becca has always been fascinated about the fairytale story of Briar Rose her grandmother tells. When her grandmother is dying, Becca promises to follow her story home and this journey takes her to Poland to uncover a story of brutality, horror, hope and redemption.

I was interested by this story for the most part, but at times it failed to catch my interest. I liked Becca as a protagonist and how she went th
Linda Lipko
Sep 01, 2009 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
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 Stars. This is certainly is a very powerful novel. I am happy to have I read it, but I have mixed feelings. On one hand I applaud Yolen for addressing a horrendous subject matter and for using the fairytale Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty to tell a story about the Holocaust. 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.
Becca the main character is raised on a
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. She has not shared any information about her life before coming to America in the 40’s and her family believes she does not know. On Gemma’s deathbed she asks Becca to promise to find the castle from her story. Becca agrees and is quickly surrounded by all the ...more
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Into the Forest: Briar Rose no spoilers 14 18 Dec 07, 2017 06:56AM  
LeVar's Rainbow B...: Briar Rose 6 8 Jan 10, 2014 06:39AM  
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more

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