The Shadow of the Bear

Snow White and Rose Red Retold
Book cover: 'The Shadow of the Bear: Snow White and Rose Red Retold'
Regina Doman
Bethlehem Books
Fairy-Tale Novels
Number of pages: 
260 pages
Grade / Age level: 

This book was originally published in hardcover as Snow White and Rose Red: A Modern Fairy Tale. The original edition is out of print.

Among homeschool teenage girls who read this book, there is an interesting phenomenon occurring. They read this book, not once, not twice, but numerous times. In fact, my daughter's friend has lost track of how many times she has read it. Intrigued by this phenomenon, I was curious to read this book.

Set in modern times, The Shadow of the Bear, based on the original Grimm fairy tale "Snow White and Rose Red", is a contemporary story of two teenage girls who have just moved to New York city with their recently widowed mother. While they attend the local Catholic high school, their mother works in a hospital emergency room.

What makes this book particularly interesting is that the girls were once homeschooled and regret having to go to a traditional school. The high school scene is accurately portrayed with all the negative problems of teenage life. In spite of this, the girls, even though they may be naive at times, always try to do the right thing. Unfortunately, Rose's trusting nature, curiosity, and desire to be popular get her into some very, serious trouble on more than one occasion. Fortunately, her sound moral character, spunk, and ingenuity, along with God's Divine Providence, help her out.

A teenage girl could easily identify with Blanche's sensitivity and shyness, while wishing perhaps to be more confident and flamboyant like Rose. Rose, bold, forthright, and courageous, is unique in that she isn't afraid to say the truth. In one particularly dramatic moment, Rose confronts Rob, a cocky, popular student, and his friends, when she tells them in no uncertain terms what a real man is.

Ultimately, a number of literary devices, such as realistic dialogue, true-to-life characters that are real heroines (they are good and want to do good, in spite of their faults), and a multilevel plot, combine to make this an interesting book to be enjoyed after repeated readings.

In some ways, this book touches the souls of so many teenagers, because they sense these girls could be their friends. In addition to following the original plot, this story grapples with the deeper issues that teenagers have to face. The cruel, lonely world of high school life with students vying to be the most popular is accurately depicted. Similar to the novel Pride and Prejudice, the girls must judge the real value of character, and virtue is not always in appearance or first impressions. While trying to determine the true nature of some of the other characters of the opposite sex, they inadvertently immerse themselves in a page-turning mystery.

In a world that offers teenagers too many depressing, immoral or amoral choices for literature, this is a treasure, which unsuspectingly upholds true moral choices.

Additional notes: 

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