Thursday, October 18, 2012

ARC Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

The Opposite of Hallelujah
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publication: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 9, 2012)

Description: A riveting depiction of sisterhood, as one sibling's return home unleashes lies, a secret long buried, and emotional upheaval.

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 To her, Hannah's a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away.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 Hannah 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 her new boyfriend, friends, and put her on the outs with her parents, Caro seeks solace from an unexpected source. And as she unearths a clue from 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.

My Thoughts: This is a big book filled with big ideas. What does it mean to be sisters? How do you deal with grief? What about jealousy? What do you think about faith and God? How do you handle change?

Caro is just about to start her junior year in high school when the sister who left to join a convent when Caro was eight comes home. Hannah comes home sick and depressed and without a plan for her life. Caro doesn't know how to cope. When she was younger she got the name Caroliar for telling her school friends that Hannah was dead. She has rebuilt her life in high school without mentioning that she even has an older sister. Naturally, her first reaction is to lie again. This time she tells her new boyfriend that Hannah was in the Peace Corps. This lie blows up when he is at the "meet the family" dinner that is a part of early dating losing her his esteem and making her parents very angry with her.

I found it hard to like Caro much of the time. She was so angry - with her parents, with her sister, with life. She seemed so self-absorbed and so self-centered. I could see flashes of caring that grew in frequency as the story continued. She seemed really young in her search for some kind of magic bullet that would make everything right for her sister Hannah. But it did fit with her rational scientist sort of personality. I was particularly intrigued with her whole relationship with God through the story. I thought that her frequent conversations with Father Bob helped us as readers think about our own relationship with God while she was clarifying her own. 

I liked seeing Caro's growth through the story. I also liked seeing how the relationship between the two sisters changed for the better. This was a very moving and thought-provoking story that should appeal to older young adults. 

Favorite Quote:
Rules and constraints comforted me; even variables had a feeling of stability to them, because they were always part of an equation that you could solve. But what if it was all variables: What if you never knew what was coming next? What if you couldn't predict which things would change and which things would stay the same?  What if there was nothing you could really count on, not even yourself. 
I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I don't have a sister, only a brother, so reading about sisters and their relationships is both interesting and weird to me. But even worse than being confused by sisters? Disliking the main character. That is almost always a dealbreaker for me.

    -Megan @ Book Brats

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