Book Review: “A Psalm for Lost Girls” by Katie Bayerl

Callie’s older sister, Tess, died a few months ago. Since then, she’s been fighting with her mom, skipping school, pulling pranks – anything to keep her from remembering that her best friend is gone. Of course, things are complicated by the fact that Tess was kind of a local celebrity – of the religious sort.

Two years before her death, Tess started hearing voices, and it turns out those voices helped save people’s lives. Pretty soon people around town were praying to her and claiming she had the power to heal them. Tess may not have been entirely sure if the voice in her head was the voice of God, but almost everyone else sure seemed to think so. Now that she’s died, her followers at the church are building a case for Tess to be named a Catholic saint – a fate Callie isn’t sure her sister would have wanted.

A Psalm for Lost Girls is a pretty solid read. Author Katie Bayerl has definitely hit on a new concept for contemporary realistic YA fiction – it’s not often that I get to read a story about a grieving sister who’s trying to stop her mother from petitioning the Pope to name her sister a saint. Bayerl also manages to weave a kidnapping mystery into the story, which adds a bit of spice to what would otherwise be simply a story of mourning.

But even though I liked the book pretty well, I couldn’t help but think I would have been a lot more interested in reading Tess’s story than Callie’s. Bayerl does give us some excerpts from Tess’s diaries, which is probably what whetted my appetite for this alternative version of the narrative. Ultimately, I thought that a really interesting idea ended up transformed into a fairly mediocre book. I found it okay but not especially compelling or memorable. I will, however, be interested in seeing what Bayerl comes up with in her future works!

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.