Title: The Opposite of Hallelujah (GoodReads)
Source: Publisher / NetGalley
Publication Date: 09 October 2012
Series or Standalone: Standalone
The author on the web:
Place(s) Traveled to: Maple Grove, Illinois
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First Line: When I was twelve, I started telling people at school that my older sister, Hannah, was dead.
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Anna Jarzab is one of those authors that I’ve interacted with online but haven’t actually read her books before. I have a copy of her first book on my shelf but like so many books that I own I just haven’t had the time to read it. So when I had the opportunity to check out her sophomore book, The Opposite of Hallelujah, I didn’t let it slip through my fingers. At first it took me a little bit to get into the story. The first chapter is a lot of background recap on where all the major players are coming from and I found myself easily distracted by other books. But once I sat down and gave just a little bit of attention to The Opposite of Hallelujah I wasn’t able to put it down.
I loved so many things about this book and think that it has so much to offer in terms of discussion. There are issues with faith, family, friendship, trust, relationships, and other issues. There are actions made and consequences for them. There are struggles and triumphs. There are poor decisions and good ones. There is also a strong sense of family, with involved parents. Parents who don’t always make the right choices either. There were times when I didn’t like Caro’s parents very much and then there were times when I loved them. Which pretty much happened with most characters in the book so they weren’t immune to my love-hate feelings.
I really loved watching Caro navigate through so much stuff. I loved that she was smart and funny and not some weird social outcast who ends up being taken in by the hot popular jock. I loved her friendship with Reb and Erin. I liked her relationship with Hannah and could sympathize at times with things that she felt as I am a little sister as well. Then there were things I couldn’t connect with as I’d never think of telling people my sister was dead. But also, my sister never disappeared into a convent either so if I was in Caro’s place who knows what I would have done. I know Caro didn’t mean anything by some of the lies that she told about Hannah throughout the story. I can even understand them as sometimes the truth is harder to believe than a lie. One of my favorite characters in the story was Pawel. He was Polish and sweet and just a great yin to Caro’s yang. I really felt their chemistry and my heart would break and get all achey. It was just a wonderfully written romance and sets a high bar for other YA contemporaries. (And seriously, there need to be more Polish boys in books they are an underused gem.)
One might think that because there is so much jammed into this story that it would be weighty and bogged down or feel disjointed and all over the place. But it isn’t far from it. The writing is very tight and solid and the pacing is just perfect for what needs to be told. The Opposite of Hallelujah is a story I didn’t know much about going in. I didn’t read the synopsis and I didn’t look at many reviews and I think because of that it allowed me to form my own opinions on everything as I really had no expectations. Its a book that I found really hard to put down once I really sat down with it. This is a story that I know that I will find myself re-reading and bullying people to read. Its one of my favorite books for the year and I really can’t recommend it highly enjoy. So if you haven’t picked this one up yet then know you are really missing out and need to grab yourself a copy today.