Becca and her two older sisters grew up hearing the story of Sleeping Beauty (Briar Rose). Their Gemma (grandmother) would always tell them the story. When they grew older, Becca was the only one who would go sit by her Gemma’s bedside at the nursing home and listen to her Gemma tell the story. Gemma told it a little differently than most children are used to, but it was always the same—she was Briar Rose. Before Gemma dies, she makes Becca (a reporter for a local newspaper) promise to find out the true story—their family history. In the hunt for her grandmother’s true story and identity, Becca learns more than just family history.
- The story begins when Becca is a child. She and her sisters ask their Gemma for the story of Briar Rose.
- For the first 24 chapters, every other chapter tells a little bit more of the Briar Rose story.
- Chapter two goes to present day, the girls are visiting their grandmother in a nursing home—on her death bed. Becca s the only one that actually visits daily and listens to Gemma’s story telling. She makes a promise to Gemma that she will uncover her true identity after she dies.
- After Gemma’s death, a box is found that contains pictures and newspaper clippings from back in the 1940’s when she arrived in the United States. This starts Becca on a hunt.
- Becca gets her boss at the paper involved on the unraveling of the mystery, and they end up traveling the refugee camp that her Gemma stayed at when she arrived.
- She discovered her Gemma was called Ksiezniczka which means Princess. So that adds to the confusion… was her grandmother really a Princess and what on earth was she referring to her life being that of Sleeping Beauty?
- After returning home, she discovers that her grandmother’s last place of residence before she came to the States was an extermination camp.
- She decides she needs to go over to Poland and find out the history.
- After visiting a few places in Poland, she finally visits the city where the extermination camp was.
- No one in the town wants to talk of it, except for a priest.
- The priest was not around when it happened, however he found out a few things from a man who was.
- Becca visits this man, Josef Potocki and it turned out he knew her grandma.
- Chapters 25 and on tell the story of the horrible Holocaust experience from the eyes of Mr. Potocki, including how he knew Becca’s grandma.
- Josef was a homosexual aristocrat who ended up being put into a concentration camp for being gay. He escapes and ends up joining with a group of partisans.
- He chose to return to Poland and joined up with a group there. They discovered Chelmno (the Polish name for Kulmhof).
- The rest tells of how he met Ksieznickzka… helping to save her from the “sleeping” spell that was placed on her.
- She married the “prince” who kissed her to life before a raid.
- Aron, her husband was killed in an unexpected attack. She and Potocki were the only two who escaped.
- They met up with a group of partisans. Ksiezniczka found out she was pregnant so they forged papers for her in the name of Eva Potocki to go to America.
- Josef never heard from her or if she had made it to America until Becca showed up.
I really do not feel like it relates to me. I was not drawn into the story as I have been with others in the past. I can see it being used in high school though to teach children about the holocaust and the horrors people faced then. It gives a very distinctive twist on the Sleeping Beauty story, including mystery, romance, and the realistic evils of the world. - MM