How to Set A Fire and Why

How to Set A Fire and Why

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
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Lucia has been kicked out of school, again, this time for stabbing a boy in the neck with a pencil. Her father is dead; her mother is in a mental institute; and she's living in a garage-turned-bedroom with her aunt. Making her way through the world with only a book, a Zippo lighter, and a pocket full of stolen licorice, Lucia spends her days riding the bus to visit her mother in The Home, avoiding the landlord who hates her, and following the only rule that makes any sense: Don't Do Things You Aren't Proud Of. When Lucia starts at Whistler High it seems no different from the schools that came before: girls play field hockey, chasing the ball like dogs, the school psychologist has beanbag chairs in her office, and detention means sitting silently surrounded by stupid people ("I am a veteran of detention"). But when Lucia discovers a secret Arson Club, she will do anything to be a part of it. With a biting wit and striking intelligence that she can't fully hide, Lucia animates her small-town life: the parties at an abandoned water park, visits to the 24-hour donut shop where her friend Lana's cousin works, the little island in the middle of a medical park where kids go to drink. As Lucia's fascination with the Arson Club grows, her chronicle becomes a riveting story of family, loss, misguided friendship, and destruction.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781101870570
1101870575
Characteristics: 283 pages ; 20 cm

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Nicr Nov 21, 2016

Smart, funny, swift, with a seemingly effortless voice. Fully realized.

Cynthia_N Aug 14, 2016

Yes, this story is about setting fires but also about so much more. Lucia is having a rough time and had to start living with her aunt and attend a new school. She overhears some students talking about the Sonar (Son-Ar, Ar-son) club. A good read.

l
lukasevansherman
Aug 14, 2016

The problem with buzz books is that you set your expectations high and then, well, more often than not the books don't deliver. It's not really their fault, as hype is usually a turn off for me. Jesse Ball's new novel has been praised for its teenage anti-heroine, Lucia, who, yes, dabbles in some arson. While it's mildly refreshing to have an angsty female rather than an angsty male (We need another Holden Caulfield like a hole in the head.), but we've been here before and, as someone who works with teenagers, I have little interest in reading about them. It's well-written, but I feel it could've been darker and bloodier. Also, I'm not sure I learned much about fire.

AL_BETHM Aug 12, 2016

Written in the strong, clear voice of young Lucia who tells it like it is, a really great read for teens and adults. She grabs a hold of her tragic life and pulls herself up by her bootstraps, managing to navigate her world and the odd assortment of adults in it with courage and humor.

AL_ALICE Aug 05, 2016

Dynamic dark story told in first person by a brilliant 14-year-old girl narrator reminiscent of Holden Caulfield. Excellent writing. The girl, who lives with her aunt, comes from a family that has created its own rules to guide their behavior, including "Don't do anything you're not proud of."

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