5 of 5
Are You Sleeping
336 pages; Gallery Books
In Barber's brisk debut, Josie Buhrman is a New York bookseller who's been working hard on her inner calm, shedding her birth name and her Midwestern past—most especially her father's murder 13 years earlier. The crime was so open-and-shut that it didn't even qualify as a cold case—a gothy neighbor kid was spotted at the scene and got convicted. Now, a self-declared investigative reporter and podcast host, Poppy Parnell, is looking into new evidence about the case—and millions are listening. Josie is compelled to confront dark memories of her mother, who joined a cult, and her twin sister, both of whom have already lied about the death of Josie's father. Barber plays Josie's anxiety-soaked narration against Poppy's somber podcast and snarky social media chatter, showing how complicated the truth can be when people have different levels of investment in it. Dark. Moving. Timely.
— Mark Athitakis