Jane Yolen's Briar Rose

Book Report/Review
Pages 4 (1004 words)
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It is typical of every parent to concern themselves with what they consider 'appropriate reading' for their ward. This idea usually stems from the belief that young minds are impressionable and what they read as children tend to affect them as adults. Many books, popular among young adults, have faced the brunt of censorship on pretext of containing objectionable material.


Briar Rose is in fact a beautiful blend of romance and history, which suits the taste of every young reader. It is the tale of a young woman's quest to uncover the mystery of her deceased grandmother's horrific Holocaust past. Though Yolen does not gloss over the reality of the Holocaust, she makes it quite readable by using the fairytale of 'Sleeping Beauty' as a metaphor for the sordid past. By making use of fantastical elements, Yolen unravels the imagination of her young readers. Gemma's use of traditional fairytale lines like - "once upon a time" and "they lived happily ever after" soothes the young reader. The memory loss of Gemma is a clever narrative ploy by the author to spare her readers the grizzly details of the past. By deploying conventional elements of a fantasy, Yolen manages to mitigate the savagery of World War II. The barbed wire used by the Nazis is represented by the thicket of thorns, the extermination camp becomes the castle, the pathetic woman who escapes being gassed is turned into a princess and the homosexual partisan who resuscitates the dying woman becomes the prince. It somehow drives home the point that fantasy must inform reality. ...
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