Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Becca has been enchanted by her Grandmother Gemma’s story of Briar Rose since she was a child. At Gemma’s deathbed, Becca makes a promise to her, a promise leads Becca to Poland, discovering Gemma’s past and the truth behind Gemma’s claim to be Briar Rose.
“That castle is yours. It is all I have to leave you. You must find it. The castle in the sleeping woods. Promise me.” (pg. 19)
This is a powerful, touching retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. Before reading it, I couldn’t imagine how Yolen would connect the fairy tale with the Holocaust, but the wall of thorns becomes barbed wire, the prince has a real-life counterpart and the truth of the sleeping spell is a horrible reality.
I shy away from Holocaust literature in general. I’m always worried that it will be too depressing, although so many of the stories, like Briar Rose, end in redemption and hope. Gemma, as the princess, is both a victim and a heroine, as were so many individuals. She loses everything in the sleeping wood, her memories, her identity, her true love, but manages to build a new life for herself and her daughter.
I was enchanted by the story from the beginning. Even though it dealt with a horrific subject, it was short and simply told. Beautiful, really.
I borrowed my copy from the library. I am an Amazon Associate.