Review: Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Briar RoseBriar Rose by Jane Yolen
Read: January 18 – January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover (library book), 192 pages
ISBN: 0-312-85135-9

Publisher: Tor/Tom Doherty Associates Inc, 1992

Personal read.

Book Blurb: 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.

My Opinion: While I was reading this book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had read it before. But I can’t actually remember reading it. Which means I either haven’t ever read Briar Rose, or it was so long ago that I don’t remember.

I am not sure why, other than length and the fairy tale aspect, this book would be recommended for anyone under the teenage mark. It deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, as books about the Holocaust tend to.

This story was fairly heavy. I am enthralled with anything Holocaust related, so when I learned that this book entwined the story of Sleeping Beauty and the horror of the Holocaust, I had to read it. Briar Rose didn’t disappoint.

There were times when I wanted to beat the characters over the head for their apparent stupidity. You are Jewish. You are researching your grandmother, who apparently has no past… and you can’t put two and two together without having to have someone else spell it out for you? It was maddening to me.

That, combined with some editing inconsistencies (Aron and Aaron, both referring to the same person. As well as Potoki and Potocki) lessened my enjoyment of the book somewhat.

However, the plot drew me in. The sadness and longing to know about Gemma and the family history was very palpable. And when Gemma’s story was being told, my heart broke, as it usually does when I read about the terrible things that happened while Hitler was in power.

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed this book, and I think I have actually read it before. There is no magic or fairy tale retelling with it, though, so if that is your expectation, then best look elsewhere.

(Cover image and book blurb courtesy of Goodreads)


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