Add your comments here for Chapters 29-End.
I think it was really shocking finding out how Gemma had survived Chelmno, she was found among the piles of dead bodies killed by the SS men. If it wasn’t for the partisans and Josef, she would have died their in that horrible place. When they brought her to safety she was silent for a long time, but when she eventually spoke she had remembered nothing except the story of Sleeping Beauty. This is why she had told this story, because it was the only thing she had remembered before she was found, revealing why she had asked Becca to find the castle and the prince. When she speaks of the prince I think she is referring to Josef, the man who had saved her and the person who could tell Becca of Gemma’s past. Her husband Aron Mandlestein, Gemma’s grandpa, ends up dying from a bullet. This goes to show why he was never brought up and wasn’t a part of Gemma’s life. That was shocking when he was killed so unexpectedly, his life taken within moments and Gemma left to raise a child alone. I hope this story ends up having a good ending, after all the horrible things that had happened.
I was very shocked as well when we found out that was Gemma, he told his story so well and centered it directly around how they found her, what she remembered, when she married and how she lost her husband. It was so much information at once, it was almost overwhelming. I also think that by prince she means Josef because she says “and I will never forget the dark prince who kissed me awake.”
Also if you recall Josef was known as Prince in the previous partisan group when he first got out of the concentration camp. So I think there are many things that played a role in her referring to him as a prince.
There was a bunch of information packed into such a short abundance of space. Josef is referred to Gemma’s prince because he was the person who came to Gemma when her life was in danger. Josef is referred to the prince in many occasions such as when he is in the partisan group.
By Gemma taking Josef’s last name this gave her freedom and that’s partially why she was a princess.
I agreed Brooke. I loved the story. After all the wondering while reading the book, in the end everything comes together and starts making sense. It is upsetting that Aron was killed though, and Gemma left alone to raise Becca’s mother. But I’m glad that I understand why Gemma always told Sleeping Beauty to the girls, because at one point, that was the only thing she knew, not even her real name.
I was hoping that Josef and the group would break in to Chelmno’s camp, and save Gamma that way. I never thought that they would find Gemma in a pile of death bodies. I can’t believe that Gamma somehow managed to live after being gassed and trampled on. This shows how strong Gemma really was, how she fought to stay alive is so amazing.
I one percent agree with you on how Gemma survived Chelmno. It was crazy how she was found. I never thought about that Brooke. That is the only she that she remembered and that is why she told the story. Indeed it was shocking when he was killed so unexpectedly. She was left with raising a child on her own and alone, it’s scary how things like that happen.
I’m confused, was Aron the one who saved Gemma instead of Josef???
If I’m correct it was Aron who said that there was someone moving and that they were still alive which lead to her being found and helped and so on. Im pretty sure though it was Josef and Aron both who saved her Josef supplied the air while Aron lifted her arms up and down.
I thought it was Aron also because on page 173 it says ” Avenger handed up the body to Josef and Birch helped the boy climb out himself”.
Aron was the one who jumped into the grave and pulled Gemma out when he saw her moving and then between them both they revived her. Aron had a medical back ground so he knew what sort of chest compression to do to get her to come back around and Josef was giving her mouth to mouth.
I was wondering the same thing. The way I took it, Josef gave her mouth to mouth because he said he could taste the vomit on her lips. Though it was Aron who found her moving in the water and jumped in to get her out. They both saved Gemma in a way Josef is just the one that gave her air.
Aron and Josef both saved Gemma this is true. However when Gemma refers to the dark prince she is talking about Josef. We know this because she said she will never forget the kiss that the dark prince gave her to save her. Thats why I think that Josef is who really saved her, even though Aron found her he was not the guy that gave her mouth to mouth to save her, Josef did.
I think it is sad that Gemma had to raise her child on her own, but I find it odd that she never mentioned Aron to her family or even her daughter. I wonder why she had kept it a secret, especially for all those years. Was it because she didn’t want anyone to know what she had endured during that time? Did she keep this a secret because she didn’t want to upset her daughter and her family?
Becca claims that she thought Gemma really didn’t remember. Perhaps reality was too horrible for her to face?
I do not think Gemma wanted Becca to know the entire story. The reality is that it is very difficult to understand what was happening at the time and Gemma was trying to hold back the entire truth about her history at Chelmno.
I think that Gemma did in fact remember the event during the war. She just did not feel the need to bring it up to her family. What’s in the past is in the past. Why relive all those bad memories when she was trying to start a new life in america? Thats what many people who escaped that fate were trying to do. They wanted to start over.
If I were Gemma I would have wanted to forget the past and never talk about it again. She went through so much and needed some consolation and time to heal.
That is what I thought, she didn’t mention it because she didn’t really remember much of anything. And yes, I do think that for her reality was to hard to face and this is why she forgot things.
I feel like Gemma never forgot her past. She just never shared her past with the girls because they were to young to understand at the time. She kept all of her stuff in a box, why would she do that if she didn’t plan on telling Becca to seek out the castle. I feel like she was waiting for the right time. She did not want Becca to have to see the horrible truth at such a young age.
I think she did not tell any one because I do not think she knew exactly what happened to him being that she was down over the bank by the river when all the shooting started so she may not have wanted to say anything because of that. Also it is possible that she was upset still and that it was hard for her to except so she may have just left it in the back of her mind with out telling anyone since it could have been a touch subject.
I think Gemma didn’t want to tell her family about Aron because it was such a bad time for her. She almost died and then fell in love with someone during the War only for Aron to die himself. This was probably a traumatic time in her life and telling it may have made her feel like she was reliving it, so she kept it to herself. In a way she was telling everyone about it through the story of Sleeping Beauty. I wonder why she didn’t talk about Josef at all. He was the one that saved her and let her take his last name along with his stepfathers ring.
If I were Gemma and was in her situation, I wouldn’t want to tell anyone either. Telling people would only remind myself about the awful experiences that happened during the camps. I think the Gemma didn’t want to tell anyone because she didn’t want them to feel bad for her, and ask all the questions that many people would have about the times she was in the concentration camps.
I think Gemma probably didn’t want to tell her story for multiple reasons. She was probably slightly embarrassed because of the situations she was put in, scared of what they would think, or that they would go in search for answers and people and she probably just didn’t want to have those memories ever cross her mind again. The thing I don’t get is because she raised her daughter by herself and that was Aron’s daughter too. I don’t know how she would have never told her daughter who her real father was after watching her grow up all those years and knowing that she is a part of him. It just blows my mind.
I found Josef’s story very interesting! I was shocked to learn that Gemma was found barely alive in the grave. I figured that she had survived Chelmno because there would have not been a story to tell but I did not expect to find out that Gemma barely made it out alive.
I defiantly thought Gemma survived Chelmno herself. I didn’t think she was on the verge of dying and someone had to help her. I feel that she just didn’t want to talk about Aron to her family because she didn’t really want to talk about her past at the camps.
Josef’s story definitely caught my attention. I didn’t expect Gemma’s story to be the way it turned out to be. I can kind of understand why Gemma didn’t really want to talk about her past to her family because it is something that would be hard for me to talk about. It’s crazy that Becca actually got to meet and talk to the guy who saved Gemma and I’m sure Becca feels very accomplished after finding out about Gemma’s past.
I felt the same way, I thought Gemma would have been found differently. I wish there was a movie to this so we could truly capture what happened. Like you said though, there isn’t a story with out Gemma!
I see now how the story of Briar Rose ties in with Gemma’s past, however I find it a little confusing for lack of a better word. After being revived, she is asked who she is and where she is from and all she remembers is the story of Briar Rose. I think this is weird because in a dark twisted way, her story of being found alive under piles of corpses is similar to Briar Rose, yet all she can remember is that story. Does she tell the story of Sleeping Beauty to her grandkids because it’s all she remembers from her past, or because her being saved by Avenger and Josef was much like that story?! It’s hard to put what I’m thinking into words so I hope you guys can understand me on why I found this interesting.
I get what your saying I think Nicole. She tells the story because its similar to what she went through, the castle, then thinking she’s going to die and being kissed awake by a prince, Josef. It is confusing though as to why she only remembers that story, did they tell it at the camps? Was that maybe her favorite childhood story?
I think that Gemma only remembers this story because it is a safe way to think of it all. Gemma was probably in shock of what all had happened and when she was thrown into the vans is when I think she talks about the mist in the Briar Rose story that she remembers. Gemma is probably thinking of her past and trying to put it all back together but is unable to. I think that the mind of a person is truly an amazing thing. It allows you to remember things that are important to you and things that may have hurt you but you learned from them. But the mind also has a way of protecting you from what we don’t need to know or from reliving it. This is why I think that Gemma is only able to remember the story of Briar Rose.
Hmm.. just a thought, Humans can remember anything really, even if they weren’t significant. She forgets everything because of gas poisoning and that little memory happened to be the only thing she remembered.
I feel that she told her grandchildren the story of Sleeping Beauty because it is much like her life story. From everyone falling asleep and only her being woke up to Aron dying and it not be a happy ever after. This may have been an easier way for her to tell her story without people knowing it is similar to what she went through in her life. Though Becca and her siblings did ask questions about the story, Gemma could tell them the truth while they thought it was the princess in the story.
It is a little confusing for me too. I do not understand that this is the only thing that she remembers. It was very exciting at the same time.
In the end of the chapter Josef said that after they parted ways that he had hoped that she made it to a safe place but on the bad nights he would dream of horrible things and thoughts that maybe she didn’t make it. So that means that Josef probably never heard from her. I don’t really understand how you could never talk to a person who saved your life again? Especially after all that Josef did for her and if she just never talked to him again.
I feel like Gemma probably had no idea who Josef really was and being so unhealthy and sick while being with them, the memories of names probably slipped her mind. I’m sure she would have made contact with him if she could have. Josef is probably overwhelmed with happiness though knowing she survived and had a beautiful family.
Gemma probably didn’t want to have any communication with him when she arrived to America because it would bring back horrible memories. She started a new life and didn’t want anything to do with her past that’s why she never told anyone about it. Not even her own daughter.
Large reason why they probably never talked again is because neither of them knew weather each other was alive and if they were they had no clue where each other was. Being that they could have been in any spot of the U.S. or any where in Europe.
This is all true. I guess it just kind of surprised me that Josef never really knew what had happened to her all this time and never heard from her. I couldn’t imagine going an entire life time wondering something like that. I would think it would have drove him nuts.
Gemma may have blamed Josef for the death of Aron because Josef wouldn’t let her go get Aron. Josef was just trying to save her but Gemma was probably upset and angry with Josef because of this. It may have also been hard for her to talk to anyone that was in the war with her because it brings up bad memories.
Yeah Josef died Gemma was going to have to raise his child on her own. I’m sure that probably wasn’t the easiest of things to do either. I couldn’t have done it that’s for sure.
This part was sad for me, I wish that Gemma and Josef got to meet again. This would have made the story better and more sentimental.
I thought Aron died not Josef….
She could have forgotten him, just as she had with everything before she was found within the piles of the deceased. The prince in the story may be Josef, since the story of Briar Rose is the only thing she can remember, so in a way he is not forgotten. He lives within the story she had told her grandchildren over and over again.
Back then, there were not cell phones, and instant messaging though. It would have been very difficult for them to stay in contact. They did not even know if one another lived, let alone where they had ended up. I am sure they continued to care about each other and wonder about each other but there was really no way of them coming in contact. Even if they did, they may not want to relive the horrible memories that seeing each other would bring up.
I feel like Gemma didn’t really know who saved her. She knew of the guy but maybe she didn’t who he was and didn’t know of the nice guys that Josef is. I think if maybe she wasn’t so sick she would have tried to talked and seen the person who saved her.
Well it would be hard to keep in touch with each other during that time. The world was in such chaos during the war and then Josef was in poland after the war which was severed off because of the soviet union. I bet that if they could keep in touch they would have.
At the end it is a little confusing for me. Does Becca end up deciding to tell her family about Gemma’s past or does she keep it to herself. At the end of chapter 32, Stan meets Becca at the airport and asks her if she had the story. Does this mean Becca will write it in the local newspaper?
I don’t think Becca told her family about Gemma’s past. It would be very interesting if Becca wanted to write it in the local newspaper. Then again, do you think she would since Gemma didn’t tell anyone about her story? For the sake of Gemma, I don’t think she will write it in the local newspaper considering Gemma didn’t want anyone to know about her past.
I also wondered this, Karlie. But I don’t think that Becca would write about this, or even tell Stan or her family because Gemma didn’t tell anyone herself. Becca most likely feels that Gemma wouldn’t want her to be telling her story, and that it is only for her to know.
But Gemma begged Becca to find the story on her deathbed. I think she couldn’t remember herself, but wanted her family to know. I think Becca will write the story and I think she tells them everything Josef told her. The story is too good to keep to herself and the rest of her family deserves to know. I would think that if she was my grandma, I would want the world to know what a heroine she was!
I think she would tell Stan and even her family if they really wanted to know. I don’t think she would keep this from them if they really honestly wanted to know anything more about her. However I don’t think she would write about it in the newspaper.
The deathbed promise Becca made to Gemma was that she would find the castle and find her prince. I feel like Gemma did this because she herself could hardly remember her past so she wanted Becca to find it. I don’t think Gemma would have had any problems with Becca telling her story to her family because she couldn’t do it herself even though at times she probably wanted to. Although nobody else in the family was driven enough to discover the real story of Gemma, I feel like they all have a right to know. Afterall, Becca was the one who got to experience the story firsthand and get a little taste of what Gemma went through. Nobody else in the family can say that they got to meet Gemma’s prince that she talked about over and over again so they should be able to hear the story of Gemma’s mysterious past.
I think Becca will tell her family and write a story. The story is too good to keep to yourself. If it were me I would want everyone to know. This story could give people a better understanding of what went on at these camps.
I think Becca has a much bigger story than a news paper article. If I could picture her story in written form.. I would picture her writing something like the the novel “Briar Rose.” As far as telling her family about it? I would like to believe she would. Her family really cared about Gemma and they’d wanna hear it.
It was Gemma’s story, not Becca’s. From it came their heritage and history. Becca’s mother had a right to know what she found out, as did the rest of her family. There is no way she could keep that to herself. That would be selfish and Becca isn’t a selfish person.
I noticed in the last flashback, that we see a different side of Gemma. Earlier flashbacks showed her very reluctant to change anything about the story and she was even a little mean. In the final flashback, the girls ask if they can change the color of the princess’ hair and she said that it could be any color they want it to be. I just thought that even though this was small, it held a lot of significance because we see Gemma in a new way (or at least I did).
Josef shares a quote by Emerson, “The hero is not fed on sweets but daily his own heart he eats.” Then he says, “If that is a definition you can accept, then I will tell you I have dined long and hard on my own heart. And it is bitter” (194). What are your thoughts on this?
I think the meaning of this is that a hero always remembers what they have done in the past. They may be a hero but what have they had to go through to be that hero? They might have had to kill someone, that could eat at their heart. In that meaning the hero “eats” his own heart trying to hid the pain of the past. Josef says that he has dined on his heard long and hard. He is living each day with the horrible memories of his past and he knows that he will never be able to forget those memories.
Josef is saying that heroes go through a lot of difficult and horrible times. It is not all sweet and romantic like the movies make it. He had to eat at his own heart because he did things that he may have not done before the situation. His heart became very bitter because of all the horrible things he saw and experienced.
What if everything Josef said was just his version of the fairytale like Gemma had her own? We know now that Gemma’s fairytale made sense within the story, but what if Josef’s is also a fictional version?
I guess i try to think the best of it. Josef is polish and they do like to play games, but i doubt her would make up a story about something so important like that. I think that whole “games” section of the story was just him and Magna being silly. (Though it was very confusing.)
I definitely agree, I do believe Josef and that is story was truthful, but it would be crazy if it was actually all made up!
I kinda thought about that to like what if he was just telling Becca what she wanted to hear what if Gemma’s husband is still alive and is looking for Becca.
Hey Casey so Polish people like to play games huh?
Josef could very well be telling Becca his version of the fairy tell that Gemma has already told her. He may just be telling her what she wants to hear so she doesn’t get hurt or feel like she has put all this time in for nothing.
I also thought for a little bit that his story could be fictional as well. I am hoping that his story is true and I believe it is true. I do not think he would make something up like that knowing that it is very important to Becca and her family. We will never know if his story was made up or not, but finally getting to know what had happened to Gemma was very shocking.
STAN AND BECCA KISSED. HAAAALLA.
Gemma is rescued by Josef after they find her in a mass grave full of people with very few still barely alive. All Gemma can remember after being rescued is the story of sleeping beauty and so thats why they call her princess. Gemma was either in shock and could not remember anything else that had happend or did not wish to bring back up the horrors of what she had experienced. Gemma is later married to Aron who is then shot very soon after the marriage and Gemma is left to take care of her baby because she is pregnat. Josef saves her from the attack where Aron was shot and killed. This is another reason why Gemma and Josef are so close to one another.
Finding out the rest of Gemma’s story was quite shocking. We finally found out who Becca’s grandfather was and also that he had died. Throught Josef’s story we learned about what had happened to him as well as Gemma. I like toward the ending when Josef tells Becca that she can refer to him as her step-grandfather and can always write to him.
When Gemma became conscious again, she was unable to remember anything other than the story of Briar Rose. She was gassed and nearly murdered so her mind would definitely not be the way it was before. Maybe this really is all she remembered. The fairytale may have been the only thing keeping her alive.
Yeah I agree the story was sort of her only comfort when it comes to all the evil surrounding her in Chelmno.
The ending was a little confusing. I get that it is another flashback, but is it Becca telling the story now?
I think it was another flashback because it was in italics. I was confused about that too.
I wonder what Gemma’s life was like before they had found her. Or what would’ve happened if the holocaust never happened? She would’ve never came to America and gave birth to Becca’s mother.
I was wondering that too. What would have happened to Gemma if she wouldn’t have been found by Josef? She wouldn’t have survived the holocaust. Josef truly is a great person and he is a hero for saving Gemma.
I think it was shocking to find out that Gemma was find in a grave. If it wasn’t for the partisans and Josef. She would have died their in that horrible place. She didn’t speck at first but I wouldn’t too. She saw horrible things and it took her along time to true people again and I think that why she didn’t say anything.
The grove was a real horrible place.
I agree with you. I believed if I was Gemma I wouldn’t have said anything or done anything either. I would have been in just shocked probably the same way Gemma was when she was found.
So Stan did have feelings for Becca after all. The only reason he pulled back emotionally before was because he knew that Becca needed to figure out her past before he tries to make a move so she doesn’t get mixed up in emotions. Stan saw that she needed a clear head.
That’s what I thought at first, too! I think that Stan was just waiting for the right moment. He wanted to make sure that she was okay with her grandmother’s death before he got involved.
Becca was on a mission to find out her grandmother’s past and Stan didn’t want to jump in and take her mind off of that. He waited for her and it payed off in the end.
That’s a good way to put it. Stan didn’t want to get in the way of her search about Gemma.
I think Stan know what wants. I agree with you Pickworth he did pulled back emotionally before because he want Becca to find the Gemma story. Now Becca is back I think Stan will ask out Becca and they will live happily ever after.
Yes. Stan was waiting and making sure the Becca wanted the kiss and she was okay with it before it happened. Stan was trying not to get in the way of the search about Beccas grandmother that he waited for the right time.
Near the end, Becca said that she truly believes that Gemma doesn’t remember anything. What do you guys think? I am thinking, how do you not remember that? I know she doesn’t remember anything before they brought her back, but what about after? How much she loved the Avenger and them getting married. I think maybe is was a selective memory? She didn’t want to remember so maybe she just chose not to.
I agree she only rembered the story of Sleeping Beauty maybe because it was all she wanted to remember. The story sort of gave her comfort to all of the bad things that were happening around her.
Yeah maybe it was a comfort thing. I just wonder about Becca’s grandfather. Why didn’t she every tell anyone of that? She had to remember that part because of all the belongings she had in the box. Or even remember Josef? She had to think about him sometimes, he saved her life twice. I wonder why she never wrote or told anyone about her story.
I think going through all of what Gemma went through would be hard to talk about to anyone. We know that she does not remember anything that had happened to her before Josef and the Avenger found her with the rest of the dead bodies. Gemma most likely chose not to tell her family about the horrible things that had happened. It would be hard to tell someone about the person she married and loved was shot in the head right in front of her. I think her way of telling her family about her past is expressing it through the story of Sleeping Beauty. It’s the only thing that she can remember or wants to remember that happened to her.
I agree. I believe that she picked what she wanted to remember. I don’t blame her though. I wouldn’t want to remember the things that she went through either. She probably doesn’t want to remember them because then them memories would make her in a depressed mood.
I think she might have began to remember eventually becuase people were still being murdered when she joined the group. I believe that she didn’t want to share her complete past with her family. She didn’t want them knowing the horrific details she held within.
Yeah, and she had to have remembered Josef at least. She had his last name for a while and had his belongings that she carried around with her in that box.
The only reason I think it is true that she lost all memory is because what happened to her to lose that memory. Its not like she just got hit in the head she got gassed by the exhaust in the truck. So I agree with Becca. Maybe in some cases though she did remember things on purpose.
Do you guys think it was the gas that erased Gemma’s memory or maybe she was lying and that she just didn’t want to remember all the terrible things she has endured? I find it hard to believe that something like that can completely give someone amnesia. Maybe the story of Briar Rose was the only way she could remember the bits and pieces of her memory. Thoughts?
That’s what I was trying to say in my post above. Maybe that Briar Rose story is the only way she can think of the story because she can’t process just evil actions.
Same here Pick I was trying to figure that out. How did she lose her memory? Why didn’t she just tell them if she still remembered what happened? But then again like you said if she did remember then this whole story maybe does not exist because the majority of this story was Becca figuring out Gemma’s past.
It is crazy to think that if they would not have saved Gemma, then this story would be nonexistent. Gemma would have never met Aron and would have never gotten pregnant. Becca’s mother would have never been born which obviously leads to Becca never being born. If you think about it, how many untold stories and future generations were also killed in the camps along with the Jews?
Thats a very deep post Alanna. I never looked it like that, because Briar Rose is just one story can you imagine how many untold stories there are. Its amazing that we will never hear about the stories of the other thousands of jews that were killed in the camps. The struggles they went trough, the feelings, and emotions that they felt. So much untold history that we will never hear it’s a shame.
It only took the entire book for Stan and Becca to kiss. It’s about time that Stan became a real man and did.
I thought the ending was stupendous. It wasn’t exciting at all…. not all ending need to be. However it was nice to have closure with the story. Becca finds out about most of Gemma’s past (at least all that is on record) and she gets together with Stan at the end. The reader can also probably assume Becca writes the story and tells her family all about her adventure.
Becca didn’t find out everything about her Gemma’s past, but I think she found out what she wanted it to. I think Gemma would be proud of her. Becca made a promise to Gemma and she kept that promise until she was successful. I assume that Becca goes home and shares what all she found out about Gemma.
I agree she found out what she came to know, just like Stan.
Gemma would certainly be proud of Becca after everything she did. She stayed true to her word and kept her promise. Becca has to feel accomplished for everything she discovered about her grandmother. I’m sure this experience made her a bigger and better person and it made her realize how grateful she really is.
It was really surprising to find out that Gemma survived Chelmno. She was saved by Josef and some other partisans. When she first go out she was not normal. I mean who could be after going through what she and many other people did during this time. She would not really talk but then she finally did and all she would talk about was the story of Sleeping beauty. This is the only thing Gemma could still remember after all the torture at Chelmno. When she asks Becca to find the castle and Prince I believe that she was referring to the castle as Chelmno and the prince being Josef. She does this so Becca can figure out her past. I do not know why Gemma could not tell her what she went through. The only thing I could figure is her memory maybe was fading and she really did not want to talk about it since it was so terrible. We then find out that her husband Aron Mandlestein was shot and killed. This left Gemma to raise her child by herself.
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