The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab (Delacrote Books for Young Readers)
Growing up Catholic and being named after a nun, I recall myself as a kid scared to death I was also expected to grow up and be a nun. So all stories about faith and exploring what a calling to vocation really means hook me instantly. I have always wondered how someone can know so unequivocally that this is the path a life must take. And I have always wondered what happens if a person who has been called can wake up one morning and realize that the call wasn’t real. How do you go back to being a regular person after spending all that time being holy and praying nonstop, I wondered and still do. Anna Jazrab explores this mystery in her second novel The Opposite of Hallelujah in a spellbinding mystery of faith, secrets, and overcoming crisis and tragedy.
The novel opens with Caro Mitchell, a teen girl who considers herself an only child–and she likes it that way. Her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago to enter a cloistered order, and Caro barely remembers her. When Hannah leaves her convent and returns to live with Caro and her parents, 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 To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away.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 Hannah 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 her new boyfriend, friends, and put her on the outs with her parents, Caro seeks solace from an unexpected source. And as she unearths a clue from 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.
Jarzab says of this novel, “The Opposite of Hallelujah is a novel about sisters and science and faith and friends.” She adds, “And Caro has a super cute Polish boyfriend. I feel like that’s a selling point.”
ead an excerpt from The Opposite of Hallelujah here!