The Opposite of Hallelujah

by Anna Jarzab

After joining a convent eight years earlier, Caro’s older sister Hannah has... read more

After joining a convent eight years earlier, Caro’s older sister Hannah has renounced her vows and returned home. To sixteen-year-old Caro, Hannah feels like a stranger, and she resents her sister’s intrusion into her comfortable life as an only child. Caro lies to her friends and new boyfriend to cover up Hannah’s return, rather than have to explain her presence. It’s not easy to have Hannah around. She’s withdrawn and clearly depressed—in fact, she’s severely anorexic, and her parents struggle with how to help their adult daughter. Caro finds support in the unlikely friendship of a priest who isn’t put off by her anti-religious opinions and who shares her love of science. A tragic accident during Hannah’s childhood, which her parents have been tiptoeing around for years and which still haunts Hannah, slowly comes to light. Caro, at first relentlessly rude to her sister, gradually develops empathy for Hannah’s physical and emotional state, and pushes her parents to face the reality of their daughter’s condition. Just the right amount of humor brightens this story of sisters reunited and a realistic family struggling to find the right path through a difficult time. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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