What You Have Left

Will Allison, Author . Free Press $23 (210p) ISBN 978-1-4165-4139-4

Loss and redemption take center stage in story writer Allison's beautifully written debut novel. When five-year-old Holly's mother dies suddenly in the summer of 1976, Holly's father, Wylie, leaves her in the care of her grandfather, Cal, and disappears. Holly's coming-of-age on her grandfather's South Carolina dairy farm is a turbulent one, producing a volatile woman with drinking and gambling problems. She does manage, however, to land a good husband in Cal's contractor, Lyle, and the two have a daughter. Meanwhile, Wylie drinks himself close to death and works odd jobs, while Cal endures the deaths of his wife and daughter with stoic dignity. But an Alzheimer's diagnosis proves too much to bear, leaving Cal to put his affairs in order before making an early, quiet exit. It's more than 15 years later before Holly and Wylie reunite, providing the deeply felt emotional core of this earnest novel. Characters' tension-fraught relationships are well played, and Allison is adept at navigating a labyrinthine web of psychological underpinnings. Though the structure has its stymied moments (chapters are chronologically jumbled and are told in various voices, narrative styles and tenses), the nonlinear narrative gives Allison a trove of angles, and he nails all of them. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/09/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
Paperback - 222 pages - 978-1-4516-4319-0
Paperback - 227 pages - 978-1-4165-4140-0
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4165-4667-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-0533-4
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