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The Opposite of Hallelujah Hardcover – October 9, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738361
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,711,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Big sister Hannah joined the Sisters of Grace convent when Caro was eight, so it seemed simpler to tell everyone at school that her sister was dead. That was “Caroliar’s” first lie. Eight years later, Hannah is home, depressed, and anorexic, having left the convent in self-imposed disgrace. This time it is easier for Caro to announce Hannah’s return from the Peace Corps, but as the lies pile up, so does Caro’s own confusion and disgrace. Jarzab packs a lot into this story—questions of faith and forgiveness, science and religion, mental illness, guilt, and possible redemption, as well as simple high-school drama. But at its heart, this is a story about sisters, and it’s as complex and convoluted as the relationship itself. Caro must reinvent her only-child status, learning to accept her parents’ worried focus on an older sister who was for years essentially nonexistent. Hannah, on the other hand, is overwhelmed with guilt over a friend’s death and is resentful and envious of Caro’s normal teenage angst. Couched among the issues are truly likable people: intelligent teenagers supporting each other through good times and bad; loving, very human parents struggling with how to intervene in the life of a seriously ill adult child while nurturing their teenage daughter; and a science-nerd priest who is honest enough to admit that he doesn’t have all the answers. Grades 8-12. --Frances Bradburn

Review

"Jarzab packs a lot into this story, questions of faith and forgiveness, science and religion, mental illness, guilt and possible redemption, as well as simple high school drama. But at its heart, this is a story about sisters."--Booklist, starred

"A layered meditation on family and belief that will ring true for faith-questing teens."--Kirkus Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
I love this book, I couldn't put it down!
Darlene
The Opposite of Hallelujah is 450 pages long, which is very long for contemporary YA, but I like how the author took her time developing plot and characters.
Hannah @ Paperback Treasures
I loved his sense of humor, his sensitivity and the closeness that was featured in his family as well.
Brandi Breathes Books

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
At the heart of The Opposite of Hallelujah, I think the message is that your actions don't just effect yourself. A lie, a decision to leave, hiding from your problems, and pain can't be isolated to just you, it creates a wave to the people you love and that love you.
Caro is a very relatable narrator. I could relate with her anger, pain and doubt about what was going on in the world around her as well as her curiosity whether related to learning or uncovering the past of her prodigal sister. She is a bit spoiled at times, but aren't we all. Thinking of ourselves is our natural state, but I love how she feels regret when she treats others badly, and at the end of the day I think that she strives to put others before herself.
Pawel, Caro's friend and love interest is great as well. I loved his sense of humor, his sensitivity and the closeness that was featured in his family as well.
The Opposite of Hallelujah definitily has something that is missing from a lot of teen novels, involved parents. It doesn't mean that they are perfect, but I love the relationship and the conversations that are in this book. I like that they are involved in school work, try to enforce a family dinner, and how they try to cultivate a relationship between Caro and Hannah.
Anna Jarzab did a wonderful job writing the emotions of the characters. It got me to feel something for them, especially with Hannah. Even when I did not know what was the root of her pain and confusion, I still felt for her. I could see that she was trying to hard to reform a relationship with Caro as she sorted through her feelings.
I guess one thing that should be mentioned in case you can't tell from the description, there is a lot of religious discussion in this novel, but I think that it all felt authentic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By xjessirae on December 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Opposite of Hallelujah begins with a teenage girl, who was basically raised as an only child, dreading the return of her estranged sister. This is just the first layer of the story. In this book, we are taken along a journey of self-discovery through the eyes of Caro Mitchell. Anna Jarzab created a novel that shows the true strength and bond of a family and the meaning of love between sisters even through all the dark secrets and mistakes.

Caro was a tremendous surprise in the book. On the surface, she was stubborn, tempered, blunt and albeit, extremely selfish girl. Even with her bad attitude towards her sister and her parents, I found Caro to be extremely real and likable. I understood her actions and feelings of resent and unworthiness when Hannah comes back into her life. Change is not easy and the adjustment of sharing her parent's affection and attention was hard on Caro. Added to that is the unknown true reasoning of Hannah's departure eight years ago, her unexpected return, and all the lies and secrets her parents have been keeping about what happened to Hannah when Caro was very little. Caro tries to find herself throughout the book, questioning why she does things, learning from her mistakes, and embracing her sister's presence. Caro really changes herself, opens her eyes, mind and heart, and grows up immensely.

The romance between Caro and Pawel is not prominent in the book, but a very wonderful addition to Caro's overall growth. Along with her talks with Father Bob, I think Pawel really helps Caro. He was supportive and understanding. He was an adorable, cute guy that cared so much about Caro. He was there when she needed him and his absence made her realize her dire mistakes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Uniquely Moi Books on February 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In The Opposite of Hallelujah, we meet the main character who goes by the name of Caro. I definitely felt as if I could bond with her right away for reasons that many others may not understand and for the exact same reasons as she clearly explains and tries to justify in the book. She is not an only child, but was raised as one. Having an older sibling who has never been around, Caro feels as if it's just her and her parents. I myself felt this same way but I have an older sibling that never seemed to take part in our lives because he simply chose not to. This is the exact reason for Caro's older sister so I can totally get her point as to why, when Hannah decided that she wants to come back into the picture like everything is perfect, Caro refuses to make nice. In all honesty, I feel like many would probably hold a grudge against Caro for this and I am not one. I felt her hard heart. I would've done the exact same thing in her shoes.
Hannah now wants to make nice. But from where she came from? Being a nun and going back to a normal life? That can't be easy either. There are some serious underlying issues that need brought to the surface. As Caro struggles with accepting her sister, Hannah struggles with her own inner battles.
I did hope for a bit more of a jazzed up ending and not a picture perfect one, but all in all, this was a really good read and I do recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KeriM on November 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This heartfelt young adult family novel is primarily about sisterhood, forgiveness, and faith (though it's not an overtly religious or "faith-centered" book). Teenager Carolina's sister Hannah is substantially older than she is. Hannah left the family to join a convent when Caro was young. She has unexpectedly returned to the family home. This sudden change to the family dynamic brings up old hurts, old secrets, and new problems. At the same time Caro's sort-of boyfriend breaks up with her and an interesting transfer student enters her life.

While some readers may see Caro as whiny or petulant, she struck me as a fairly typical teen- somewhat self-centured, a good student, likes to party, wants to date, and has an attitude. The romance is sweet. It lacks much tension, but was clearly meant to be secondary to the family journey and an avenue to force the issue of Caro's lies about Hannah.

For her part Hannah's functioning is severely compromised. The reader doesn't know why until toward the end of the novel. I thought her reaction to her pre-teen trauma was somewhat extreme, but not unbelievably so.

The Opposite of Hallelujah was so very different from another YA book I read recently. That one was filled with action, danger, and strong romantic tension. This book had none of those things, and yet, I was still involved enough in this family's journey and Caro's character growth to keep on reading straight to the mostly satisfying end.
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More About the Author

Anna Jarzab is the author of All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and Tandem, book 1 in the new Many-Worlds Trilogy. She lives in New York City and works in children's book publishing. Visit her online at annajarzab.com, follow her on Twitter @ajarzab, and follow her on Tumblr at annajarzab.tumblr.com.

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