Ok, so I finished Briar Rose by Jane Yolen about a month ago, but I’ve finally got around to posting this review.
First of all, Briar Rose is a novel text under the Standard English Module B – Close Study of Text.
Like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this novel is a really easy young adult read. It’s straight forward, uses dialogue and not much in the way of complicated symbolism or metaphors. Personally, I found it a bit too simplistic as a text and the fairytale metaphor overused, but that’s probably because I’ve seen it done elsewhere. For example, the idea of fairytales as metaphors has been done before in Supernatural and Buffy, funnily enough. But was using Briar Rose for the Holocaust clever? Possibly, but I didn’t think particularly so.
However, what I did enjoy reading about this book was what you learn about the experiences of the Holocaust survivors/victims. Usually, you’d expect a book about the Holocaust to be incredibly grim and horrific, and often you don’t even want to pick up the book! But Yolen’s novel manages to tell the story in a way that is both emotional and horrific, but not entirely repulsive to the faint-hearted reader. In particular, I really enjoyed Potoki’s section of the story, because you get this great insight into ideas about survival and heroism. I felt that Potoki was probably the most ‘fleshed out’ character in the novel.
The other characters, including Becca and Gemma, I found were rather 2D. Becca in particular annoyed me, because she is portrayed in such a good light (rather fairytale-esque obviously) in comparison to her sisters. Also, the ending with Stan was very cliche.
- Good: story of Holocaust and Josef Potoki’s narrative
- Bad: Becca’s characterisation, the Stan/Becca ending
Anyone else have any thoughts on this text?