YA Friday: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

Friday, October 26, 2012

Title: The Opposite of Hallelujah
Author: Anna Jarzab
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Read for: Review

Caro used to tell people that her older sister, Hannah, was dead. Somehow it seemed easier than explaining that she was a contemplative nun in a convent where her family could only see her once a year. However, for whatever reason, Hannah has decided to leave her life in the convent, and now Caro has to adjust to the fact that her long-absent sister is about to complicate her life.

I was drawn to The Opposite of Hallelujah by its interesting premise -- you don't often hear about nuns in this day and age, especially not young ones in their twenties. In most ways, The Opposite of Hallelujah does not disappoint, delivering an interesting plot, a hint of romance, and a lot of growth for the main character, Caro.

I'll be honest -- Caro definitely rubbed me the wrong way at the beginning of the book. First of all, I thought she was a total brat, completely negative about her sister and constantly breaking her parents' rules by sneaking out and freaking out whenever they asked her to do anything. Sometimes when I read books about teenagers, I have to silently pray that I was not that self-absorbed. However, Caro legitimately learns some lessons in the book. She doesn't have this complete change of heart in which she never does anything annoying or selfish again, but she does begin treating her family with more love and she also tries to do some pretty giving things. I really enjoyed watching her transformation, as well as reading some of the conversations she has with a scientist-priest from her church.

The plot was also well-done. The whole premise of The Opposite of Hallelujah is pretty unique, and I think it lived up to its promise of being an intriguing story. Hannah's reasons for both entering and leaving the convent are somewhat secret for most of the novel, and the Caro's process of uncovering those reasons is interesting. In addition, there is a great side plot involving Caro's romance with a new student named Pawel (pronounced "Pavel") who was absolute YA dream-boy material.

My major complaint with this book may seem like a small thing, but I noticed it several times and it was very distracting. There were several instances where a character would say or do something and then directly contradict it later in the book. For example, at Christmas Caro is so excited to give Hannah her Christmas present that she can hardly keep herself from bringing it to the dinner table. But on the next page, she says that she holds on to Hannah's present, saving it for last. This seemed jarring and contradictory to me, and there were several other similar instances in the book.

However, for the most part The Opposite of Hallelujah was an interesting read that examined religion, family, trust, and the punishments we impose upon ourselves.

3.75 stars

Warnings: Brief strong language, teenage drinking, some moderate kissing


  1. Oooh. Nuns. I definitely haven't seen that one crop up in YA before. Well, they did in Grave Mercy, but that was totally different. I'll have to keep my eye on this one.

    1. Yeah, it was definitely unique. Not a perfect book, but I really liked it.

  2. I haven't heard of this one and I must say it sounds quite interesting! The contradictory thing worries me, though.

    1. It was definitely what bugged me most, and probably happened about 4 or 5 times (never hugely important details, but still there). Other than that though, the book was great.

  3. I agree with you that the characters have to be consistent to be true. You make this book sound intriguing. When my 19-year-old daughter went to stay with a family in France, they attended a ceremony for a family friend who was entering the nunnery. She was 19 also. Yikes. How can someone make that kind of decision so young? Guess they feel called.
    Oh, I wanted to tell you about a new meme I started on Mondays in case you want to play along On Mondays, you’ll find My Dreaming of France meme

    1. Oh wow, that is really young. It is definitely not a common decision to make. I remember reading an article about it in Seventeen when I was younger, about a girl who was in her early twenties who was also a nun. Thanks for the info about the meme!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...