What You Have Left

 

By Will Allison, Free Press: Simon & Schuster, Inc.; $23

This novel with a female dirt-track car racer at the center qualifies as a front-row contender. Three family members each have three chapters to tell the story from their perspective. As a reader, it’s up to us to figure out what’s driving the action. Family dynamics are on the line, and in the end we acknowledge the small stuff needs to be sweat over because that’s what shapes us as children growing into adulthood.

If fast cars don’t kill the characters, excesses of alcoholism, smoking, gambling and anger are waiting in the wings.

Three generations tangle in a series of locations that revolve around racetracks and the people who haunt them in South Carolina and in Indianapolis. Allison’s writing exposes brutal honesty with grace. Holly, Wylie and Lyle know we’re hearing them out — sort of like poker players dealing the cards to their lives, daring us to show our hand to trump or fold. Commendable summer reading.

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