24 Books to Pick Up This September

Stay Up With Me

Stay Up With Me

224 pages; Ecco
A single mother who fixates on her college-age son's girlfriend; a husband who throws a holiday party and pretends his wife is at work (rather than admit to her exit from their marriage); a young woman who, after a few glasses of wine, hits a girl with her car, then insinuates her role in the death to the grieving this collection of 13 whip-through-the-pages stories, characters make all the wrong decisions for all the most understandable reasons—loneliness, grief and self-preservation. How their choices play out over time is what makes us so sympathetic toward them—and the book so memorable. Yes, people do make mistakes, but Barbash, in a totally realistic, not-at-all-sentimental way, seems to be advocating for our capacity for some accrual of wisdom. "You will try and forgive yourself," says the hit-and-run driver, many years after the accident she caused. She may not succeed, but her struggles to do so—i.e., confessing to strangers, lying awake at night—make you believe that she one day will.
— Leigh Newman