The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

Standalone. Delacorte Press (October 2012) Library
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 To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away.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.

For some reason I've been reading a lot of sister stories. They are slowly becoming a new favorite topic of mine to read about. Although, I've always liked sibling stories reading about sisters is a whole different concept than reading about brothers because let's face it - sisters can be more intense especially psychologically.  With brothers the tension is different. It usually results in a fist fight. Sisters can stir up a whole lot of drama that is always exciting to read about.

In The Opposite of Hallelujah our main character Caro doesn't even feel like she has a sister. She is eleven years apart from her sister Hannah and eight years ago her supposed sister went into a convent to become a nun. Who does that? Whenever she and her family visited (about once a year for half an hour) she acted like a perfect stranger with a serene face and nothing to say so no wonder she feels like an only child.

Caro has had it hard in school ever since she told a certain lie about where her sister was. Being nicknamed Caroliar doesn't leave room to make much friends. But now that she is a junior in high school everyone she knew back then either went to another school or forgot about her little white lie. Now she has two great best friends a girl could ever have. Reb, is cool without trying hard, always has her back, and tells it to her straight when she needs it. Erin is "that girl" who always has a guy around her and likes to stir up drama but cares about Caro's well being and well... love life. Everything is pretty much perfect in her life but then her parents announce that Hannah is leaving the convent and coming back home to live with them. 

Caro has this way of deflecting her pain. Instead of getting sad, she forces all the pain down and gets angry and combative. She'll snap even when she knows the person she's attacking is just trying to be nice. This could be seen as a bad thing but since she was the POV you could get inside her head and see what she was going through. She's not letting out her emotions freely. She doesn't say what she really wants to say. Her family likes to hide from the truth and not deal with things.

When Hannah comes back home Caro instantly has her defenses up. She is not happy one bit that Hannah has come back into her life. Again she is like a stranger to her and no way in hell will she accept her into the family. But, there is something off about Hannah. Some dark secret she is hiding that gets her interested into this mysterious stranger. It all boils down to the question of exactly why did Hannah leave the convent? What dark secret is she hiding?

In all that tension there was of course romance. Caro falls for Pawel a new transfer student. He's funny, sweet, and honestly cares for Caro. Pawel is able to show her a new way of thinking. He's literally the perfect guy for her and I fell in love with him right away. He surprised me a little in the beginning but other than that he was the sweetest guy to Caro.  It's nice when the love interest doesn't have ulterior motives. He's basically the type of guy where it's what you see is what you get. 

Caro and Hannah's relationship was a difficult one. Caro needed to deal with her own issues before she could see who Hannah really is. I wish that Caro wasn't so selfish with Hannah because it's really the only thing about her character that bothered me. I loved Hannah and just wanted to give her hug. She was this soft spoken little thing that was clearly reaching out for help and understanding. It took a boy for Caro to understand her sister... Sigh. Despite the feeling that Caro was being selfish with her sister the good and the bad parts of their relationship were the best parts of the book. You could see their relationship changing shape throughout the book and that's what I expected and what I wanted to get out of this book - a great story about sisters discovering what it means to be a sister. 

Overall: Towards the end I felt the story could have left a little to the imagination and not let it go on so long. Also, Caro was being a bit selfish with her sister but I could see where she was coming from. Both the romance and the sister relationships and even the little mystery were the great parts of the story. And Father Bob! - I love that guy. We need more understanding adults like him in the world.

For more info about Anna Jarzab and her books you can visit her at her website where you will find out info about her other books including her upcoming release (October 2013) Tandem.


  1. I 1000% agree. Although I love to read about romantic relationships, the best ones are familial. The bond between these two girls sounds so awesome, it makes me wish I had a sister! (Even if it started off a bit rocky.) Great review!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

    1. I'm exactly the same way. Romantic books are great (there is a little romance in this one) but bonds like sisters or brothers have are the best to read about. I actually don't mind just having the brothers although...

  2. I haven't read anything by this author before, but I have heard good things. As a sister myself, I'm always drawn to sibling stories too, and this sounds like a pretty good one. Although I think I might struggle with Caro's character at times, I'm looking forward to giving this a shot. Lovely review, Adriana! :)

    1. She's not that bad but I do agree that I struggled a little with her selfish moments. She had a lot going on with her so I was able to get past it and hopefulyy you are able too. Thanks (:

  3. This author is new to me. I do agree that stories with sisters tend to have a lot of drama. This one does sound interesting. It sounds like Caro has a lot going on in her life and a lot to work through. Thanks for sharing!


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