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Briar Rose (1992)

de Jane Yolen

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
2,6181034,340 (3.98)228
The tale of Sleeping Beauty and the dark tale of the Holocaust twined together in a story of darkness and redemption.
  1. 60
    Deerskin de Robin McKinley (FutureMrsJoshGroban, MyriadBooks)
  2. 20
    Red as Blood; or, Tales from the Sisters Grimmer de Tanith Lee (MyriadBooks)
  3. 10
    El noi del pijama de ratlles de John Boyne (Cecrow)
  4. 10
    La lladre de llibres de Markus Zusak (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: YA-geared fiction relating to the Holocaust
  5. 00
    The Final Solution. A Story of Detection de Michael Chabon (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two stories that intertwine characters from elsewhere with the Holocaust. Both are affecting in their own ways.
  6. 00
    The Seduction of Water de Carol Goodman (kraaivrouw)
  7. 00
    Damned Strong Love: The True Story of Willi G. and Stefan K. : A Novel de Lutz van Dijk (Jenson_AKA_DL)
    Jenson_AKA_DL: Although one book is fiction and the other a true account there are many similarities between the story told in the latter part of "Briar Rose" and the whole story of "Damned Strong Love" for those who may be interested.
  8. 01
    The Devil's Arithmetic de Jane Yolen (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Same author, also YA about the Holocaust.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 103 (següent | mostra-les totes)
His voice had a wonderful flow to it, and even the awful things he had to say were beautifully said." This book in a nutshell.

It blew me away. You cannot "enjoy" a book about the Holocaust; that's not the right word, not least because even though the characters are fictional, the horror of their stories is not. However, the juxtaposition of those stories with the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty creates a heart-rending, gut-punching, thought-provoking, powerfully meaningful and relatable MASTERPIECE. I often had to put the book down, breathe, and work through what I just read. I had to walk away between scenes in the last half of the book because it was so difficult, so intense to experience. The way Jane Yolen uses the tale of Sleeping Beauty as a way for Gemma to reconcile her past, the role the tale plays in the characters' lives, how different characters hear and interpret it differently, how their expectations for it differ and what those reactions mean in relation to Gemma's Just wow. This book is truly in a league of its own. ( )
  hissingpotatoes | Dec 28, 2021 |
This book has the distinction of being one of the first fairy tale retellings I ever read, one of the first books I read about the Holocaust/Shoa (after The Secret Cave, which doesn't really count), and the first book I read with a gay character.

The basic plot is simple: Becca promises her dying grandmother to find out why she called herself the real Sleeping Beauty. A scant handful of photographs and documents lead her to a town in upstate New York that had a Polish refugee camp in the 1940s, and then to Poland in search of Kulmhof--better known today as Chelmno. There, Becca meets a man who knew her grandmother, who shares his perspective of the awful story of the rise of the Third Reich, the labor and death camps, and the smallest pockets of resistance.

Reading it now, I'm not sure how I got my hands on Briar Rose when I did, in seventh grade. It's billed as young adult, so maybe I picked it up at a book fair, but the protagonist is 23, fully employed, and seems to have been quite responsible about her grandmother's end of life care. And, of course, it's the Holocaust, and not a version that's been sanitized. I don't think I had read or seen anything like the descriptions of Chelmno that Yolen gives before reading this, and they stuck with me.

Which takes me to my main point: everything I remembered about this book was from Josef Potocki's story, which is essentially its own novella (novelette?) that makes up the last quarter of the book. Yolen sets up Becca's family and situation decently, but the plot just moseys along. Her grandmother left very few clues about her former life, but what might have been a hunt through archives and libraries and individuals' stories ends up being handed out all too easily and conveniently without false starts or dead ends or personal histories. It's not like I was flipping the pages's just that there isn't much here worth remembering. (Except, apparently, a couple sentences in which Becca pays a Polish cab driver in American dollars and he thinks it's the best thing ever. Why the heck did that stick with me?) Becca is a character I sympathize with because I'm interested in history and fairy tales and I love a good story...but she isn't very interesting, and neither is her easy search.

Josef Potocki, on the other hand, is a fascinating and nuanced character. I'm sure when I mentioned the resistance your first thought was of heroic deeds, but Josef makes clear that he doesn't see himself as a hero, and not in a shucks-I'm-so-modest way. He doesn't start down that road to fight injustice; it's just that the road finds him, and it's the only way he can see going forward. Not that there weren't other options, but that he just goes along with it at first to go along with something other than just waiting to die. He's ancestrally noble, wealthy, not Jewish, gay, into the arts, aware that people are disappearing without concerning himself too much until the Nazis come for him...none of what you usually read about when you read stories about the Holocaust. He lives for the moment until living for the moment becomes literal, and then he does things that authors of other novels might imply are cowardly or weak. Josef is, in short, human.

Which is why the most disappointing moment of my reread was realizing that we weren't going to get more of his story. Look, I get that the book is about Becca and her grandmother and that we've found the end of this version of Sleeping Beauty...but wouldn't it be a basic courtesy for Becca to ask Josef how he got through the war? Why he ended up staying in Poland? What he did after the war? Whether he ever had another partner? Instead, at the end of his powerful story, which was the whole reason this book has its staying power for me, Becca in one short chapter goes back to the States and her significantly older insta-boyfriend. Ugh. Becca's grandmother made a point of saying that happily ever after doesn't always include a prince--how could it, when hers hadn't been in most of her life?--but for some reason Becca's story needs to, even though it would not be hard to take Mr. Obligatory Love Interest out entirely. It feels trite and almost disrespectful to move so quickly from some of the darkest days of history to shoehorned romance.

The actual retelling succeeds--so well that it sparked my passion for fairy tale reimaginings that persists to this day. It is remarkable how many elements of the traditional story fit neatly into the terrors of the Holocaust, and vice versa, without it feeling like Yolen is manipulating already awful facts to fit her story. She's up front in her preface and afterword about the things that she does change.

It didn't take many more novels about the Holocaust before I started to feel that they were unnecessarily emotionally exploitive--trauma porn, it's called now--and started avoiding them in favor of just confronting the history. It could very well be that I only found Josef so compelling even the second time around because I don't read these kinds of novels often. Still, I'm grateful that I did read this one and that Josef Potocki was the first gay character I met in fiction. The characters I encountered in the next few years were largely sexless GBFs, sex-crazed stereotypes, or noble sacrifices/"buried gays", all defined by their queerness before any other qualities. Josef, on the other hand, is the most three-dimensional character in Briar Rose and he is the last one of Becca's grandmother's generation standing.

Given the slowness of the majority of the book, I won't rush to recommend this to everyone...but if you like fairy tale retellings, I encourage you to learn about Becca's grandmother and meet Josef Potocki.

Quote Roundup

97) "I judge people by how well they read maps."
Ha! That hasn't aged well. Or maybe it aged especially well...

202) Why did he stay in Germany? Why did anyone stay? ( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
Sleeping Beauty as a metaphor for a survivor’s experience of the Holocaust.

Becca has grown up listening to her grandmother’s version of Sleeping Beauty, but she never imagined it was anything more than a story. When Gemma reveals on her deathbed that she is Briar Rose from the story, it sends Becca on a quest to find out the truth about her grandmother’s past using every journalistic resource she has at her disposal. Thorny briars become barbed wire, cursed mist becomes poisonous gas, and the kiss of life has nothing to do with true love … but all fairy tales start with a grain of truth.

It’s a very moving and haunting story that gave me a new perspective on fairy tales. Many of them probably started as harsh realities being told in a way that was easier to process. ( )
  vvbooklady | Oct 19, 2021 |
This book is so unexpected in its prose and story that I almost feel like any review can’t do it justice, but here’s an attempt. Yolen writes under the guise of Terri WIndling’s Fairy Tale Series, a group of books bound by a common theme of traditional fairytales retold for modern times, and brings the tale of Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose to stark life during the modern era. Her story is set in contemporary times, sometime during the late 1980s/early 1990s, but turns its eyes to the past to examine the events of World War II. Like many of the second generation after the War (and any good fairytale knight), our protagonist Becca finds herself on an unexpected quest after the death of her Grandmother reveals that there were many questions left unanswered about her life before coming to America. Her grandmother always told the story to Becca and her sisters (and their children) the story of Briar Rose, the Sleeping Beauty, but not in the way that most modern tellers are used to hearing. In Gemma’s version Briar Rose’s tale is filled with dark men, symbols of eagles, and a risen fog that puts the princess’ castle to sleep - with only the princess awakening in the end. Becca’s quest for answers leads her inevitably back to Poland, and to Chelmno, one of the most notorious Death Camps operated by the Nazis where extremely few survivors have ever been revealed, and eventually her grandmother’s story is revealed. It is not surprising to readers that Gemma hid her past and chose to forget, but Yolen’s intertwining of her life inside the mysterious roots of folklore is a unique method of exploring themes of trauma and collective memory. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Apr 27, 2021 |
Although a YA book, this was VERY VERY well written, especially the latter part about the holocaust.
I didn't hugely engage with the modern-day bulk of the book (though it wasnt bad, and IS aimed at 13+). Set in a middle class Jewish-American household, grandma is dying and leaves a secret to be uncovered by favourite granddaughter Becca.
This takes her to Poland, the remains of the extermination camp at Chelmno, and an old man who remembers...
After the fairly frothy teen narrative up till now, this is very dark and harrowing, and extremely powerful writing. ( )
  starbox | Feb 25, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Jane Yolenautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Canty,ThomasAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Elwell, TristanAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nolte, UlrikeTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Windling, TerriIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Windling, TerriAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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"...(B)oth the oral and the literary forms of the fairy tale are grounded in history: they emanate from specific struggles to humanize bestial and barbaric forces, which have terrorized our minds and communities in concrete ways, threatening to destroy free will and human compassion. The fairy tale sets out to conquer this concrete terror through metaphors." --Jack Snipes, "Spells of Enchantment"
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With Special Thanks to Barbara Diamond Goldin, Staszek Radosh, Linda Mannheim, Betsy Pucci, Peter Gherlone, Mary Teifke, Alissa Gehan, Susan Landau, and Scott Scanlon for their research help. Any mistakes made in the presentation of that material are mine alone.
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"Gemma, tell your story again," Shana begged, putting her arms around her grandmother and breathing in that special smell of talcum and lemon that seemed to belong only to her.
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The tale of Sleeping Beauty and the dark tale of the Holocaust twined together in a story of darkness and redemption.

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