Review of The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

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 To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away.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


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The main feeling I had throughtout this story was frustration. But I'll concentrate on the good things for the moment. 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 and may have fallen asleep a couple of times.

The story is quite long for such a simple idea - contemporary story of a girl dealing with life now her sister, who she barely knows, comes back home from a convent - with far more problems than being used to being in solitude. But it's strangely conplex. You have Caro pushing one way and her parents pushing another, all the while Hannah is just wasting away before their eyes. Caro has the most annoying parents ever, they really set my teeth on edge, constantly getting at her for everything and she barely does anything about it. But then three quarters of the way through everyone suddenly stops bitching at each other and everything goes a bit mushy to be honest. Caro's parents suddenly start being more understanding, Caro stops being selfish, etc. Weird.

In the middle of all of this is Hannah's sort-of boyfriend, Pawel Sobczak, a Polish guy who's just transferred. The relationship between him and Caro would have really helped the book along, had it not been smothered so much by Caro's annoyingly possessive parents. Overall, the story is an interesting read but not one I can see myself recommending to anyone soon. I will be looking out for more books by this author though.

3/5

Received free from NetGalley in exchange for honest review

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