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A Psalm for Lost Girls

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  845 ratings  ·  169 reviews
Tess da Costa is a saint — a hand-to-god, miracle-producing saint. At least that's what the people in her hometown of New Avon, Massachusetts, seem to believe. And when Tess suddenly and tragically passes away, her small city begins feverishly petitioning the Pope to make Tess's sainthood official. Tess's mother is ecstatic over the fervor, while her sister Callie, the one ...more
Hardcover, 363 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Katie Bayerl Hey! Great question. Definitely not "Christian fiction." This story is set in a heavily Catholic community--there are believers and skeptics and lots …moreHey! Great question. Definitely not "Christian fiction." This story is set in a heavily Catholic community--there are believers and skeptics and lots of questions about faith (in God, self, community, love, etc). Faith is cooked into the setting and the themes and the conflict, but you're not going to find the type of neatly packaged lessons that you'd see in a book published by a Christian publisher.

Does that help? (less)
Katie Bayerl Yes! I have a second book (not a sequel) coming from Putnam Books for Young Readers. The release date is still TBD. :)

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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  845 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Carlie Sorosiak
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm really cautious when anyone says "the writing's like Jandy Nelson's," because what could ever live up to that? Um, this book. Absolutely this book.

A Psalm for Lost Girls is at once literary and supremely accessible. This novel is so many things: the story of a desperate small town, of sisters, of love, fear, the possibility of miracles. The premise gripped me immediately (my grabby hands have been all over this book since its announcement), but it was the complex plot and gorgeous language
Rosalyn Eves
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Katie Bayerl's debut, A PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS, is incredibly lovely--a psalm to friendship and sisterhood and loss and the inexplicable things that make up our faith. I've always loved George Eliot's Middlemarch, and I'm fascinated by her premise: how a woman with the ardency and spiritual fire of St. Theresa might fare in the 19th century. Here, Bayerl offers a 21st century response to that same question. What does a saint look like in a secular world?

Tess da Costa was seen as a saint by her ci
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I got to blurb this book, and here's what I wrote:

A mystery, a thriller, and a prayer, gripping and anguished, told in the poignant weaving of voices from beyond and voices left behind. – Julie Berry, Printz Honor author of The Passion of Dolssa

This debut novel is fantastic, doing all things well: setting (you can slice it), sexual tension (you won't want to slice it), vividly distinct characters, psychological tension (superbly thrillery), the whodunit (smart & tight), and most of all, heart. T
Elle (ellexamines)
2.5 stars. This is perhaps one of the most disappointing books I read in 2017. Psalm For Lost Girls starts out as a decent suspense novel with an especially nice writing style, but it falls apart quickly in the second half.

Psalm For Lost Girls has a fantastic premise. Protagonist Katie tries to cope with the recent death of her sister, who is praised as a saint throughout her town. It's a book all about how belief can turn to idolization quickly.

The first half of this book is, admittedly, high
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I have to admit that this book is aspirational for me. As someone who is currently writing a YA mystery/thriller, I know how difficult it is balance the building of suspense and construction of plot with character development and emotional depth, and this book has it all. The prose is taut and tight and often beautiful. The examination of grief and its transformative effects is thorough and real, and the story itself is gripping and compelling and unique. I loved the different POVs that allowed ...more
Bonnie Pipkin
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is thick with gorgeous writing, nuanced characters, and heart-stopping tension. Katie Bayerl writes with precision. The story unfolds gracefully. I wanted to read this slowly to soak up the beautiful language in some moments. Delicious!
Meg Eden
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
WOW this book blew me away on so many levels! The narrative is tight, the characters are real--I'm not someone who binges on books, but I couldn't put this down! "A Psalm for Lost Girls" combines so many things you wouldn't expect to see lined up together: modern day sainthood, mental illness, girl abductions--it's wonderfully bizarre, thought-provoking, dark, and hopeful all at the same time. It paints the complexity of being human: that even saints desire more than holiness, that love can be j ...more
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I loved the premise of this book, so I was pretty eager for it.

I liked Callie well enough. She's abrasive and maybe a bit mean and it all makes sense as to why. Danny was sweet and maybe a bit naive. I really enjoyed seeing their interactions together. The best part of the story was getting the journal entries from Tess and how she saw everything that was happening.

The plot was interesting and boring at the same time. Things moved quite slowly, but I was fully invested in seeing how it played
Joanne O'Sullivan
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This layered mystery expertly weaves together so many elements: family history and resentments, sisterly love and jealousy, community values and social mores, faith and an unsolved crime. At the heart of the story are sisters Tess and Callie da Costa, teen daughters of a single mom with deep roots in the New Avon community. At the risks of revealing spoilers, I'll avoid explaining too much plot other than to say that Tess is already dead when the book begins, but her diaries tell her side of the ...more
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
SO GOOD!!! I loved this book so much. Callie is such an amazing character--you can tell she's so troubled by the loss of her beloved sister and you go through every feeling with her. She's very believable and relatable. Danny, though less developed purely by dint of him not having a voice except through Callie's view of him, was a lovable character who I absolutely rooted for every step of the way. And making Tess, a dead possible saint believable through her journal entries was just brilliant. ...more
Autumn Krause
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From the very first pages, this book gripped me! I had in our living room and my guy picked it up and said, "that title is really interesting." I told him, "it frames the whole story in such a powerful way." I thought it was cool how even my husband, who doesn't read any YA, was intrigued.
As far as the novel goes, I loved how it examined faith, relationships, and love in all their many broken and beautiful expressions. I would highly recommend this novel--it delivers on its title!
Karen McManus
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous and immersive, with a beating heart that leaps off the page. A unique story with complex, nuanced characters and beautifully rendered sibling relationships.
Natalie Anderson
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A town desperate for hope, a girl plagued by visions and voices, and the people caught in between -
Bayerl's literary YA debut masterfully weaves the competing desires, loves, fears, and needs of all. I was so taken by this book - from the characters your heart aches for, tough questions about what it means to love and lose and remember, to the skillful layering of plot, to the author's obvious way with words, it was hard to put down.
Teens and adults alike are going to be falling for this one. T
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star
Yet another book reinforcing the stigma against mentally ill people as dangerous and monstrous. Stop writing mentally ill people as villains who kidnap children. Stop making them out to be monsters. Just stop. It's extremely harmful and ableist. ...more
Yamile Méndez
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: march-17
Gorgeous writing. Fascinating premise. Characters so real I could hear them in my mind as I went about my day.
Ashy Khaira
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenn Bishop
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written, gripping story about sisterhood, sainthood, and grief, tethered to a mystery that's equally entrancing. The fictional New Avon felt so true to life to this reader who grew up near the border of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Highly recommended for fans of mysteries, lyrical writing, and contemporary YA with a hint of magical realism. ...more
Marianne Jay
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Omg. For me, this book was amazing. I'm Catholic - so I get the whole saint thing. I've lost many people in my life - I get the whole overwhelming grief thing. I had a mother who was like the mother in this book - totally captivated by one child. I got every single subtle nuance in this book.

I absolutely and completely loved it
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is not a book that you can stick a genre on, but that's a plus in my view. Callie is dealing with the recent death of her older sister Tess, complicated by that fact that a couple of years before her death Tess had been hearing voices that her mom and the religious community viewed as miracles from God. Now Tess is up for sainthood, and Callie is trying to prevent that from happening. She's angry that her sister can't just be left in peace, angry that Tess endured so much grief and anger di ...more
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Rosemary
Cover Story: Enshrined
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: Um? 6? And? Also 6? Equals 12? Or equals 0?
Talky Talk: Sing Me a Psalm
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Religion
Relationship Status: LYLAS

Read the full book report here.
May 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
I tried to like this book but I just couldn't get into it. It took me 7 days to finish it, first time this ever happens. It's not a bad book, I just couldn't get into it that's all. Everything was done well. The writing, the characters, plot, everything but it wasn't the book for me. Love the ending though and the dog. ...more
Precious Sagbodje
I now have another reason why I don't like reading YA.... ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I found this one hard to put down. Faith, sisters, grief, family--so much depth.
Abigayle Geisel
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best, if not one of the best books I have read. I really got connected to all the characters and I even cried. I seriously recommend this book. You're missing out if you don't give it a try. The story is phenomenal. I can't put into words how much I enjoyed this that someone else would understand. The best way to explain it is for you to read the book and feel it yourself.

I'm so serious, READ IT!!!!! (I need to calm down)
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reading
The Good
- The original mystery/ kidnapping was intriguing although it wasn't wholly original if you've seen a lot of crime TV dramas like I have
- It appeared to take place in a lower income neighborhood with primarily Latinx people, but nothing was ever explicitly stated
-The mash-up between first person narrative and past journal entries helped flesh out the characters, relationship between Callie and Tess, and how everything tied together
-The sibling relationship was realistic and didn't push t
Ashley Flynn
Aug 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was absolutely not for me. It has an interesting premise: Tess is widely believed to be a saint by her neighborhood, but they begin to lose faith in her when a young girl goes missing and Tess can't locate her. Then Tess dies unexpectedly, leaving her younger sister, Cal, reeling. The missing girl is then found at a shrine to Tess, sparking a fervor to have the posthumous event declared a miracle and Tess an official saint. Cal doesn't want this to happen, so she teams up with Tess's secret ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-novels
This is the sort of book that stays with you for a long time. It consumes you while you're reading it and it haunts you for weeks afterwards. Aspects of the real world along with the supernatural (or is it?) and vivid imagery combine to make for a thoughtful read. ...more
Sam Musher
This book is so beautiful, as a story about using personal grief to illuminate the grief in others' lives. It's so compassionate and poignant, not to mention a damn good mystery. I couldn't put it down even though I had a paper to write. ...more
Cristina (Girl in the Pages)
If you follow my reviews at all, you know I'm fascinated by YA books that incorporate the theme of religion into them. As a Religious Studies major in college (think of it as "comparative world religion" rather than theology) I was fascinated by studying different customs, rituals, rites of passage, etc. So when I read the synopsis for A Psalm for Lost Girls I was hooked. Focusing on the events AFTER the death of the protagonists sister (Tess) who was thought to be a miracle worker, it follows a ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
*** This review was originally published at***

In her debut novel, A PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS, Katie Bayerl presents a profound coming of age story wrapped within a thriller. Themes of loss, love, sisterhood and faith are saturated throughout the pages. The added layers of suspense and mystery give this novel an addicting flair, making it impossible to put down.

Callie De Costa is mourning the sudden death of her sister. Which is hard enough. But Tess was no ordinary girl. She was a sain
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When Katie Bayerl isn’t penning stories, she's coaching teens to tell theirs. A PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS is Katie's debut young adult novel. Katie is a proud graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults program and teaches in Grub Street's creative writing program. She has an incurable obsession with saints, bittersweet ballads, and murder. It’s becoming a problem ...more

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