Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Briar Rose" - If you're in a light-hearted mood, please don't read this.

I just finished the book we're reading for this month's book club. Since I'm in charge this month, I was allowed to choose what we would read.

Quinlan brought "Briar Rose" home from school as a class assignment. She told me it was a good book, so I, wanting to read it, used the book club as my excuse to take the time to read it.

After finishing it today, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't care for fiction. I have always been a non-fiction kind of girl. Even as a 2nd grader in the school library for my weekly visit, I chose biographies. I remember reading about Thomas Jefferson, Harriet Tubman, and others and learning of all the great and noble things they did. I felt uplifted and encouraged. Getting to the end of this book, I'm disappointed.

I have always felt strongly that things cross my path for reasons. Lately, Holocaust stories have become more than prevalent. Is this just me, or is there just more being released about that hideous time in world history?

The truth is, I don't want to read fiction about the terrors there. I don't want someone's made up story. I want the truth. I want to suffer with these people. I don't know why. I feel that they deserve our fellow suffering, our broken hearts for them; although it can't, I want to carry a small piece of their burden. To piece a story together seems to mock them.

By the time of World War II, my direct-line ancestors were here in American, but what about their siblings, their aunts, uncles and cousins back in the mother countries of France, Germany and Poland? Couldn't they have taken part in this massacre? It frightens me that human beings can become so inhumane.

I found out recently that my mother's people were more than likely from Poland. This is where the main interest of this story lies. My ancestry isn't Jewish, but worse, my ancestry is more likely those who stood back and watched or did the killing themselves. I hate to think of this. These people had to live with themselves for the rest of their lives continually tortured by their own thoughts, memories and nightmares.

As our world grows in anger and evil, what can I do to combat it? How can I save others from it especially my own children? How can we be on the side of those who stood up for the right and the good in the world and fearlessly, without thought of their own lives, sacrificed to save the innocent?

So, I guess this posting is supposed to be about "Briar Rose." Yes, I think it was a creative premise, but I don't want fairy tales. If we are to "prove all things" and "hold fast that which is good," I cannot recommend this book as such. I am nothing but sad and regretful after reading it. The tricky thing is that with the Holocaust, none of it was good. The only thing to be learned is to never let it happen again. We need to learn of it to avoid or combat any future possibility of it, but it is painful and sad, anything but good. It is something not to be "held fast" to. If we don't hold onto its memory somewhere, how do we learn?

About six months ago, the kids and I were driving through Washington Park. I showed them where Zan proposed to me, and we continued around the loop. On the other side, was a Holocaust Memorial. I didn't know such a thing was there. Knowing that this is a lesson that can't be avoided, we got out of the car and walked around it. It was gripping. We all felt the gloom that surrounded its existence even the littler kids knew this was here for a significantly bad reason because of the feeling that exuded from it. Dierden has made me promise that we will never go there again. I could only hope that in their lifetimes we won't in more ways than just walking around a monument.


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