A Psalm for Lost Girls
by Katie Bayerl
Synopsis: Everyone in the town of New Avon thought that Tess da Costa was a saint... like literally a saint. People all over town were falling at her feet with prayer, they all wanted her to lay hands on them and heal the sick. Callie, Tess's younger sister was trying to see through all the hype. Tess was just her sister, her best friend. When Tess suddenly passes away from an undetected heart defect, the people of New Avon begin to push for Tess to officially become a saint. Tess and Callie's mother is quite ecstatic over all of the excitement, while Callie is quite disgusted, and she feels like her sister is getting taken away from her all over again.
When Ana Langone, a local girl who has been missing for several months, is found alive at the foot of a shrine created for Tess, the town's push towards Tess's sainthood heightens even more, and Callie has finally had enough.
All Callie wants is to highlight the best parts about her sister, despite her sudden "sainthood". Callie is determined to prove that Tess wasn't just a saint, but a great sister, and an awesome best friend, and a girl secretly involve with a boy. Before she knows it, Callie (with the help of Danny, Tess's secret boyfriend) discovers more than she realizes: Tess's hidden diary, family secrets, and the world shaking truth behind Ana Langone's kidnapping.
Elements of Young Adult Fiction:
Characterization - Callie da Costa is our protagonist in this story. Protagonists of YA novels are usually teenagers, or budding teenagers, in high school or almost out of middle school. Callie is trying to get through life while mourning for her older sister, Tess. We hear parts of Tess's story through her journal entries. Callie is met with a pretty particular dilemma; mourning her sister while trying to preserve the sweet memory of her while the entire town tries to make a saint out of Tess, especially after her death.
Pacing - YA novels usually have fast pace literature. A Psalm for Lost Girls is fast paced, which can be seen in the length of the chapters, ranging from one to five pages. This brings about a "page turner" vibe when reading. The chapters are shorter which gets the reader to move through the book much quicker.
Language - The language used in Psalm resonates with young adults of this generation, who are starting to use curse words a lot more. The way language is used is important here, too. When Callie narrates, she refers to her sister as "you", for example; "I squeeze my eyes shut, but it's too late. Reality rushes back, slamming me beneath the ribs. You: gone. Me: here alone..." (Bayerl, pg. 44).
Storyline - The storyline of Psalm jumps back and forth but forward at the same time. The reader starts off seeing the story from Callie's point of view. After a few chapters, entries from Tess's hidden diary portray her side of things, up to her death. The storyline moves a long quite fluidly due to short page counts in each chapter.
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Bayerl, K. (2017). A psalm for lost girls. New York: Penguin Random House.