The Opposite of Hallelujah

Featured
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
2517 0
The Opposite of Hallelujah
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
October 09, 2012
ISBN
0385738366
Buy This Book
      
Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child—and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro’s parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can’t understand why her parents cut her sister so much slack, and why they’re not pushing for answers.

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate Caro’s new boyfriend and put her on the outs with her friends and her parents, she seeks solace from an unexpected source. And when she unearths a clue about Hannah’s past—one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her—Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

A YA Book with Present Parents!
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Going into The Opposite of Hallelujah, I had mildly high expectations, knowing that my friend Katie of Blook Girl loved it. Still, I wasn't so sure about the subject matter, and just really didn't know that much about it, since I pretty scrupulously avoid reviews of books I plan to read, even from my favorite reviewers. Katie was completely right about this book. The Opposite of Hallelujah gave me so many feels: sadness, awkwardness, hope, and fangirling happiness.

My very favorite thing about The Opposite of Hallelujah, what makes it stand out so incredibly fresh and original to me, is that it centers around a family. Yes, there's romance and school and all of that, but Caro's relationship with her family members comes first, primarily that with her much older sister Hannah. Caro scarcely knew Hannah (eleven years her senior) when she went away to live in a convent when Caro was just eight years old. Caro didn't know how to deal with this, what it all meant, so she simplified things and told people her sister was dead. This came out, as such things tend to, earning Caro the nickname "Caroliar," which also gave Caro another grudge to hold against her sister, added to the sense of abandonment she already felt.

Fast forward a few years to the summer before Caro's junior year of high school. News comes to the Mitchell family that Hannah is coming home from the convent. Caro's parents, who have missed their daughter and been deeply hurt that she left them, even for a vocation, are thrilled to have her back. Caro, on the other hand, wishes Hannah, and the whole big, confusing, mess of resulting emotions had never come back.

That sounds mean, but Caro doesn't know this woman who appears off the train. Caro feels like an only child, and she doesn't appreciate her parents' orders that she behave a certain way to Hannah. Honestly, Caro does not feel that Hannah deserves to be so easily accepted back into the family, since she abandoned them so utterly. Immediately, Caro falls back into her old pattern, lying to people at school about her sister. She does not even tell her best friends or boyfriend that Hannah's back from the convent. Later, when it's outed that Hannah is back, she lies about where Hannah was.

When I first started reading, I was momentarily put off by the writing (not personally my favorite style) and the formatting (obnoxiously large font to make the book seem longer than it is), but I soon stopped noticing or caring about any of that, because Caro's character is so powerful. She has such a strong, authentic teen voice. All of the stupid things she does make a messed up sort of sense, because you're seeing through her eyes and you know how her mind works. Besides, aside from the lying, she's such a funny, clever, strong-spirited girl that you just root for her so hard to work through her issues.

The Mitchell family feels so much like a real family: they have awkward moments, they fight, they love. It's just so beautiful, and so rarely depicted in young adult fiction, because so much of it needs the heroine to be accomplishing some gargantuan feat, not living through daily life. Her parents love both of them so much. They make mistakes, of course, because that's what parents do, but they're always there to help or to punish as needed. Jarzab includes some very typical parent-child fights that totally had me flashing back to my teen years.

At the beginning of the book, Caro has a boyfriend (or, at least, she thinks that's what he is), Derek, who has been gone at camp. When he gets back, he doesn't call, and she does what any self-respecting girl would do: freaks out and calls her best friends for advice. Reb and Erin agree: this is bad news, and that she should probably dump him before he dumps her. She decides to do that, and goes to his house, where he beats her to the draw. I share this to illustrate how high school and realistically awkward it is. There are so many scenes that struck a perfect chord.

Anyway, stupid Derek dumping her cleared the way for a wonderful, adorable guy. Pawel is, stereotypically, the new guy at school. Yes, I rolled my eyes at this, but he's so dang adorable, that I got over that really quickly. For one thing, he's Polish and has an impossible to pronounce name (Caro's friends just call him Polish), and, for another, he is one of the most sweet, caring guys I've encountered in YA. He and Caro have an immediate connection, but don't declare it right off the bat. You guys, I totally said awwwww out loud so many times reading about them.

Another well-drawn character is that of Pastor Bob. Religion is, obviously, a huge theme in this book, what with Hannah's return from a convent and everything. I can be a bit touchy about this subject, but it was handled marvelously here. Pastor Bob does not force anything on anyone, and he's a genuinely caring, helpful guy. The discussions of religion are more theological than specifically Christian in nature. He and Caro develop a real friendship that I found very touching.

This review is approaching epic proportions, so I'll wrap things up. In short, if you are a reader who bemoans the lack of real family interaction in YA, you should probably get your hands on it right now. Anna Jarzab has just joined my list of authors whose books I must stalk.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

A Thousand Questions
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Second in a new series about a bright and determined...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
There's a chill in the air and frost on the...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Disney’s classic animated films come to life in the latest...
Fence: Striking Distance
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The boys of Kings Row bout with drama, rivalry, and...
Pirate Nell's Tale to Tell
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
From the author/illustrator team behind The Snatchabook comes a book-filled...
The Glass Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil, #2)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Once Upon a Time meets Game of Thrones in...
Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A broken world. An overwhelming evil. A team of...
Finding Balance
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Jase Ellison doesnt remember having acute lymphocytic leukemia when...
Be a Voter!: 450 Stickers for Democracy
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Get out the vote! It’s...
I Believe In You
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A charming picture book that inspires confidence, boosts self-esteem, and...
Breathless
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
From Jennifer Niven, the #1 New York Times bestselling...
Of Thorns and Beauty (Twisted Pages Book 1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
You think you know the tale as old time,...
The Verity
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When being eaten alive is the least of your...
Meanwhile
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Celebrate 10 years of this completely original graphic novel take...
Grant Beagan: The Finder's Code
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
He’s just an ordinary teenager who likes astronomy, video games,...

Latest Member Reviews

My Skull Possession
 
3.5
"My Skull Possession is a book which seems to be scaring people to death. Brighton wants to find out the..."
Twisting Minds
 
4.8
"The story: At seventeen, Claire Harper’s life has taken a turn for the worse – her mother..."
Fae's Prisoner (Crimes of the Fae)
 
5.0
"This is the book I didn’t know I needed! Fae’s Prisoner by M. Lynn & Melissa A. Craven is the..."
Fae's Prisoner (Crimes of the Fae)
 
5.0
"After reading Queens of the Fae, I had such mixed feelings about Griffin... but now I love him! This book..."
Just Shelby
 
N/A
"ARCs available for review @XpressoBookTours: http://xpressobooktours.com/2020/09/10/review-opportunity-just-shelby-by-brooklyn-james/?fbclid=IwAR2v9c-b9Z0YagynLTaMCNt-c-WW6nmWYZbuVBZYFoGNADs5c-DD6YayMGU"
Sword of the Seven Sins
 
5.0
" The story: Ari and Eva are young members of a society based on the seven deadly sins,..."
Things That Should Stay Buried
 
5.0
"Casey L. Bond has been on my reading list for years, and now I can finally say I have read..."
Of Thorns and Beauty (Twisted Pages Book 1)
 
5.0
"Dark and twisted just like I like them! Of Thorns and Beauty by Elle Madison, Robin D. Mahle is the..."
The Verity
 
5.0
"FEEDBACK Friends. FRIENDS. This book was so good. I apologize in advanced if it’s just a bunch of rambling..."
Emerge: Immortals of Indriell (Book 1)
 
4.3
"Emerge by Melissa A. Craven is the first book in her series Immortals of Indriell and is a fast-paced adventure..."
My Best Friend Prince Charming
 
5.0
"A cute and fun romp. What’s better than a Hollywood romance between a rising star and..."
Dare: A Bradford Academy Novel
 
5.0
"Really great story line , really great writing and I can’t wait until the next book because I have a..."
Chasing the Sun
 
5.0
"'Chasing the Sun' by Melanie Hooyenga captures the raw emotions felt after a breakup, as well as the ones that..."
Sunshine in the Shadows: Book 2 of the Sunshine Series
 
4.7
"This one is probably the least exciting out of the 3 books, but its lovely getting to know the characters..."
Sunshine Reigns: Book 3 of the Sunshine Series
 
5.0
"This my favourite book of the 3-part series. Sunny comes into her own with a very satisfying ending."
 
5.0
"Loved it!"
ExtraNormal Academy (ExtraNormal Academy, #1)
 
4.0
"A different take on Academy books with the main character as an alien from another planet, sent to observe humans...."
 
5.0
"I strongly recommend this novel. It has the perfect combination of action, plot twists, and cool characters that kept my..."
 
5.0
"I had no idea about how serious the fallout for teens who sext can be until I read this book...."
 
5.0
"I loved this book so much I didn’t want it to end! I totally related to the characters and the..."