The Opposite of Hallelujah
by Anna Jarzab
Published: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
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haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses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
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
The Opposite of Hallelujah was a well crafted story that delved into the psyche of a teenager struggling with faith, family, and life. I though Jarzab did a great job of building believable characters and even though Caro got on my nerves a lot, it was because she was responding in a way that would be typical of a teen. She didn't know how to deal with some of the things happening to her and her family, so she was trying to take the easy way out.
I really enjoyed seeing how Caro grew throughout the story. And that is probably the biggest reason why I didn't mind that she got on my nerves. In the beginning she acts like a spoiled brat, but even then there are hints that maybe she could be likeable. By the the time the climax comes around, I really felt for her and could see her realizing that the people around are more than what she sees on the surface.
There is of course a romance angle, and I actually liked Pawal. He's not the over the top romantic lead, or the bad boy, he's just a regular boy. There is no inta-love between them, and their relationship made sense. I especially loved how Jarzab deals with him finding out about Caro's lies.