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The Opposite of Hallelujah

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  971 ratings  ·  175 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Delacorte Press
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Reynje by: Kelly
But sister, it's the opposite of hallelujah
It's the opposite of being you
You don't know 'cause it just passes right through you
You don't know what I'm going through
So goes the title track of Jens Leckman’s 2005 EP, The Opposite of Hallelujah. It’s also one of two epigraphs that appear in Anna Jarzab’s sophomore novel, which shares the name. The song is deceptively upbeat, almost perky, yet the lyrics beautifully fit Jarzab’s contemplative and sincere novel about faith, grief and fam
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Obviously I think this book is amazing because I wrote it, but it's not like you're looking to me for an objective opinion about it or anything. Five stars! ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who want to see real families in YA
Recommended to Christina (A Reader of Fictions) by: Katie
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 Th
May 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I rarely say this, but after 450 pages of this book, I actually wanted about 100 or 150 more. Jarzab's story had me hooked and her writing was well-paced and engaging but there were a few things that felt like they could have used a little more development to take this from a good book to a great book.

Also, this is one of the most misleading book descriptions I've read in a long time.

Caro has pretended her sister doesn't exist for 12 years. She never mentions Hannah because the one time she did
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-galley

What’s interesting is how absolutely unlikeable Caro started out to be, yet I continued hoping that there was something more to the girl. Seeing herself as an only child is what starts it all: she’s spoiled, whiny and all the flaws pointed out in her were accurate. From lying to being self unwilling to bend, I was seriously hard pressed in finding anything to like in her. Bit by bit though I could see a little into her why’s.

The interaction with her family, her sister and mother especially
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was recommended to me by a family member who knows that I like stories of personal spiritual growth and also that I sometimes enjoy YA novels. She thought I would like this, and though I have decided to give this book a 3 star rating, I'm going to quantify that rating by saying that if you are older than 17 (as I am), go for meatier stuff. The questions posed by Father Bob in his discussions with Caro, the young girl who gives voice to this story, would have given my long-ago teen-age ...more
Cambria Rowland
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I loved this book! The story centers around sixteen year old Caro, whose life as an only child is interrupted by the return of her much older sister, Hannah, who has moved home after suddenly leaving a convent and life as a nun. As Caro struggles to deal with her changing family dynamic, she must also navigate the rest of her teenage life – friends, school, and of course, boys.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way it shifts back and forth between Caro's two worlds. On one hand is
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, library
I loved the cover of this book and the font on the front was calling me. Something about having your sister move away to be a nun and then suddenly moving back home because she has decided that was not “her calling”, it got me to thinking. What would cause someone to finally decide to switch gears and move back home after 8 years of being in a convent and how would that be for everyone involved? There had to be a deeper mystery involved and I was ready to spend a few days with my nose inside thi ...more
Megan Alabaugh
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2012, teen, fiction
The Opposite of Hallelujah
October 9, 2012
Random House Children's Books
464 pgs

Caro Mitchell was a just young girl when her older sister, Hannah, left home to join a cloistered convent. Hannah never really explained her reasons for becoming a nun and now, eight years later, she is not offering an explanation for her sudden arrival back home. Caro has gone from feeling like an only child to sharing her home with a stranger. The sisters' relationship is strained and awkward, to say the least. Car
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
Anna Jarzab writes eloquently about the sometimes enigmatic nature of sisterhood (blood isn't always thicker than water), and discusses spirituality and Catholicism in such a way that makes readers want to know more, rather than less. And that's no easy feat, especially when it comes to including religious themes in a YA book (unless, of course, the reader is specifically seeking inspirational literature--this book doesn't fall into that genre, I don't think).

It's been several years since Caroli
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Anna Jarzab's sophomore novel is a contemporary that doesn't resemble most of the others I've been reading lately. For one thing, the romantic plotline isn't the focus. Protagonist Caro Mitchell's relationship with her sister and her parents is much more important to the story. But it's also about Caro and her relationship to herself, who she wants to be and what she believes.

Caro isn't always the most likeable character. She lies, a lot, and like most habitual liars she does it for stupid reaso
I'm sorry, but I was kind of disappointed with this. I was so looking forward to it, but it fell flat. Caro wasn't likable enough, Hannah's issues seemed both convoluted and spread too thin, and many of the characters reacted how the author needed them to react rather than a more realistic reaction.

Caro didn't need two best friends because of the slim role they both played. A lot of little bits and pieces included were wasted, as they were never mentioned again. The science project came out of
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
BlookGirl's Summary: The Opposite of Hallelujah is a thought-provoking contemporary novel for young adults that addresses real issues, such as grief, forgiveness, faith, and self-discovery. Using familiar and comfortable subjects, such as art and science, The Opposite of Hallelujah is accessible to a wide audience, no matter their religious persuasion. I would highly recommend this novel to any teen, and believe that it will give them a great starting point to thinking critically about life and ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
450 pages ... *gulp* .. Not that it's a big deal, I'll be done with this in less than one and a half day, but still .. I've been avoiding this book, telling myself, one more quick light hearted read over and over again.. because I get this vibe from the book that it's gonna be sad if not down right depressing. I mean, even the cover makes my mind slump it's shoulders in part grief feeling the sadness this book will give me and part resignition since it knows I will really read this now ..

2.25 stars.

I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. Some chapters were so incredibly boring, but this book was okay. I didn't feel like there was anything interesting that happened until the book was almost over. This book could have been shortened. A lot. I couldn't connect to the characters, and felt they lacked in development.

I honestly don't know if I would recommend this book. Probably not.
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
This was strangely paced and uneven. Also, I feel that several of the subplots detracted from the overall story, but the story wasn't necessarily involved enough, either. I don't know. Therefore: the dreaded 2 star rating. ...more
Wandering Librarians
When Caro was eight, her 19 year-old sister joined a convent, and Caro has hardly seen her since. But now, eight years later, Hannah is returning home. No one knows what happened or why Hannah left the convent. Now it feels like a stranger is living in Caro's house. Something happened to Hannah, something that Caro has no memory of, that is still haunting Hannah today, and won't let her move on.

I didn't like this when I first started reading it, but then I ended up liking it a lot. I wasn't enjo
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I just don't know about The Opposite of Hallelujah. Good writing, decent characters, interesting premise. But, it was so looooooong, and really nothing happens until the last 1/4 of the book.

Caro's sister, who has been in a convent for over 10 years (and left when Caro was 8 years old) is leaving the convent and coming back home to live. Caro doesn't know her sister, Hannah, who is now 27, and doesn't feel any great attachment to her.

When Hannah comes home, there is obviously something wrong. Sh
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love when a book just completely takes me by surprise! I wasn't expecting much from The Opposite of Hallelujah, but I ended up loving it. It's the kind of book that sneaks up on you - there wasn't one special moment where I found myself going 'wow', and only after finishing it did I notice how amazing the book had been. The Opposite of Hallelujah is subtle in all the right ways.

Caro is such a fun MC! I didn't like her or agree with her a lot of the time, but I didn't mind, because it was just
I randomly selected The Opposite of Hallelujah from the Young Adult shelf at the library, and I am so grateful I did. Caro Mitchell is a 16-year-old high school student living in a typical self-centered bubble: she spends hours with her friends each day, comes home to talk on the phone, and then sneaks out to spend more time with them. She is also an exceptional student who studies hard and excels in her honors courses. Caro has just one secret, which is devastating to her: her sister Hannah is ...more
Brandi Kosiner
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. S
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Review originally posted on my blog

I really enjoyed reading The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab. I haven’t read All Unquiet Things, but after reading The Opposite of Hallelujah, I’m definitely going to pick it up.

The Opposite of Hallelujah is a slow moving, but emotional and enjoyable contemporary. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who need constant action because it is definitely on the slower side, but that really worked me. I enjoyed getting to k
Arlena Dean
Author: Anna Jarzab
Published by: Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Age Recommend: 12 YA
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Raven Rating: 5
Blog Review For: GMTA


"The Opposite of Hallelujah" by Anna Jarzab was truly one wonderful enjoyable read. The author Anna Jarzab was able to let us see how faith, forgiveness and above all sisterhood in the wonderful read of "The Opposite Of Hallelujah" could really be a exciting book for any YA. Yes, it deals with spirituality and Catholicism but in a very inspiring
Kathy Martin
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Anna Johnson
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Anna Jarzab, author of All Unquiet Things, writes a passionate mystery in her novel The Opposite of Hallelujah. In this novel Caro, the sixteen year old main character, has lived most of her life as an only child. Her only sister is eleven years older than her and has been absent most of Caro's life. When Caro was still in elementary school her sister, Hannah, left home and moved into a convent to become a nun. Caro never understood why, but as the years past she thought less and less of her sis ...more
Cresta McGowan
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Admittedly, when I started this novel I wasn't a fan. Carolina - the protagonist - screamed "quintessential grouchy teenager." I hated her. I even told some of my students that "the struggle was real" to get through this. But, in the end, I was wrong. Carolina isn't abnormal in her behavior; in fact, she's spot on.

Jarzab has created a witty, sharp tongued female lead that is struggling with the sudden return of her sister, Hannah. Hannah left at nineteen to become a nun at Sisters of Grace. Her
I was hesitant to pick up this book. Mainly, because of the whole religion thing.
I'm not religious. I mean, I go to a catholic school and everything but it just isn't my thing and my school just made me loathe it more. A while ago, I came to terms with the fact that my problem is not God himself -- he might or not exist, we don't know. At least, I don't -- but religion itself, any religion. The hypocrisy of it, one of the things I observed at school and all the bullshit I've listened. Not that a
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
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The main feeling I had throughout this story was frustration. The story as a whole was pretty good for a lazy Sunday afternoon read and it was really interesting seeing what life was like for Caro and Hannah, now that Hannah had left the convent. Mostly though, I was sitting around waiting for something to happen.

The story is quite long for such a simple idea - contemporary story of a girl dealing with living her sister, who has just come home after years staying at a con
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This was another Netgalley ARC which I chose for the slight mystery element mentioned in the blurb. I loved the way the author wove discussion of religion and belief through her narrative - it never came across as preachy or overbearing. I wish more YA would address these deeper questions, because teens are SO searching for meaning/answers at this stage of life.

Anyway, the main conflict in the story is between Caro and her recently returned sister, Hannah, who has renounced the convent and is a
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Caro hasn't seen her sister for years, and for a while told people that she was dead, since it was easier to explain than the truth: that Hannah was in a nunnery. But when Hannah returns after 8 years in the nunnery, Caro discovers that the truth is never all that easy to explain, or even to understand.

This books starts like a fairly typical teenage coming-of-age story, distinguished by the extremely strong and well-done voice and by the hint of mysteries buried in the past. But while it goes th
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Anna Jarzab is the author of All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, Tandem, Tether, Red Dirt, and Breath Like Water. She lives in New York City and works in children's book publishing. Visit her online at and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @ajarzab. ...more

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