June 01, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

On the day of his wife’s funeral, Wylie Greer drops off his 5-year-old daughter, Holly, at his father-in-law’s South Carolina dairy farm and never returns. That act forms the core of What You Have Left, Will Allison’s remarkable, understated novel in stories. Chapters hopscotch in time and point of view, encompassing Holly’s steady and principled hubby, her auto-racing mom, and a variety of other characters whose flaws and very flawed decision making are both real and recognizable. Allison has a precocious knack for detail (”a nursing home…that smelled of Pine-Sol and pea soup”) and for plain, old-fashioned storytelling. A-

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