Thursday, April 8, 2010
Review: Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
by Jane Yolen
3 of 5 stars
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. - from Goodreads.
Briar Rose is a fascinating, heart-wrenching novel. I was immediately caught up in the mystery of Rebecca's grandmother's life, and how she could possibly be Briar Rose. I loved searching through the old documents and momentos, I thrilled at the journey through Poland, and I scrambled to make all the pieces fit together. And they did fit together - but not in any way I could have guessed beforehand. And even the slight modern-day love story was sweet and engaging. The ending was as satisfying as it could be.
Though rather than leaving me crushed about an individual's war story, as war books often do, this book left me crushed by the horror that is our world. But if we do not understand what happened, how can we prevent it from ever happening again?
*Spoiler Alert (at least a bit of a spoiler)*
I would not recommend this book lightly. First, though it is billed as YA, I don't see how it could be. The protagonist is 23 (I think) and her love interest 35, both with jobs and grownup responsibilities. Is this a problem? Not for me!! But I doubt an average15 year old would be drawn in to experiences so outside their own. Second, there was a homosexual sex scene that was more descriptive than I was prepared for. Third, and most important, the subject matter (of mass killings, burials, bodies...) was brutal and horrific. And true. Not just any kid can handle that.
I will not ever forget this story. I think it worthwhile for anyone old enough to read it. It was amazing to see a fairy tale adapted to recent history.