Jun 21, 2013

June Genreflecting: Review: Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Genreflecting wordle
Briar Rose coverEver 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.

From Goodreads

What grandmother doesn't tell fairy tales to her grandchildren? Gemma is a natural storyteller, but she only ever tells the same story, the exact same way every time. Briar Rose, or as most people know her Sleeping Beauty, is a familiar tale about love, loss, and rallying your strength after the loss. For Rebecca's whole life she's heard Gemma tell the tale. She's heard it so much that she even knows it by heart, including the part where Gemma swears she is the girl in the tale. Rebecca makes the promise to discover the truth behind the story to her dying grandmother. The adventure that ensues is one that no one could have foreseen.

Told in alternating chapters of present day situations and Gemma's version of the fairy tale, Briar Rose is sorrowful, but important book about survivors. Being the descendants of Polish Jews, you can't expect that everyone made it out of the Holocaust alive, but the truth is even more shocking than that. Since we don't know the grandmother's version of the fairy tale from the beginning, we learn it as we move through the story so that we can piece the whole puzzle together.

Expertly researching and written, this book is a testament to Holocaust fiction. It was a unique twist on an otherwise dark story. That's not to say there aren't some dark portions to the tale, but it was considerably less than I was expecting with something of this nature. What really drew me in was the hidden truth. There are so many clues and so many directions they point in that even the characters are overwhelmed, but they are fairly easily navigated & accounted for until the complete truth is clear. 

As for the fantasy element, this was no where near a normal fantasy. It falls under the fairy tale retelling section, but just barely. The whole premise is based around the Briar Rose story and while true life does mirror the fairy tale, it takes until the end of the story for us to really see that. Normally in retellings you get the sense of deja vu or something that automatically reminds you of the original tale. That being said, it still counts and is a special version of a retelling. You can't go into it thinking you're going to get a regular story, but what you get is so much more.

Be sure to come back next Friday when I review Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore and host a giveaway!

No comments: