Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bookanistas: The Opposite of Hallelujah

 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 To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away.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.

I didn't have too many expectations for this book, but I ended up really enjoying it. First of all, I love a good sister story. I don't have a sister, and I don't have any idea what it's like growing up with a sister (or, in Caro's case, growing up without a sister), so I love to read about sister relationships. This one was an awesome one because of the dynamic of Hannah not being around for so long. Added in to this sister dynamic was Caro's complicated relationship with her parents based on her sister's absence and the lies she had told about Hannah. If you are frustrated with YA books that have absent parents, this is one you should check out. The family dynamic here is very real and very messy.

Another cool thing this book does is look at religion and the different roles it plays for different people. Religion is a driving force in the plot, and it's something that Caro struggles with throughout Hannah's return. I know religion is on the mind of a lot of teens, so I always love it when authors include it in their books and handle it in a realistic and thoughtful way.

Caro is a very complicated person. Sometimes she does stuff that I wouldn't do, and sometimes she does stuff that I know the worst part of me would probably do. But she also totally redeems herself sometimes, and I totally loved being in her head. Characters like Caro are my very favorite to read. 

For another Bookanista recommendation, check out Katy Upperman's review of BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE!


  1. Caro sounds incredibly complex, as does the relationship she has with her sister and parents. I love books that deal with family dynamics, though I hadn't heard of this one yet... I'll definitely be adding it to my TBR. Great review, Jess!

  2. I'm with you on the sister book thing. No sisters here either so I'm always fascinated to read about that relationship.