How to Set a Fire and Why, Jesse Ball's singular, blistering new novel, tells the story of a teenage girl who has lost everything - and will burn anything.
Lucia's father is dead, her mother is in a mental hospital, and she's living in a garage-turned-bedroom with her aunt. And now she's been kicked out of school - again. Making her way through the world with only a book, a Zippo lighter, a pocketful of stolen licorice, a biting wit, and the striking intelligence that she tries to hide, Lucia spends her days riding the bus to visit her mother and following the only rule that makes any sense to her: Don't do things you aren't proud of.
But when she discovers that her new school has a secret Arson Club, she's willing to do anything to be a part of it, and her life is suddenly lit up. As Lucia's fascination with the Arson Club grows, her story becomes one of misguided friendship and, ultimately, destruction.
"Jesse Ball began his writing career as a poet, which explains a lot. His novels Silence Once Begun and A Cure for Suicide are both spare and elliptical, frog-hopping from scene to scene, making stories that aren't plot-driven into page-turners. How to Set a Fire and Why seems to be no exception; it's told by a teenage protagonist who can't manage to stay in school in spite of her knack for seeing straight through to the truth that underlies things. She's a lovable misfit worth hanging out with." (Maddie Crum, The Huffington Post)
"Lucia is a seriously troubled teen girl, ready to burn it all to the ground, who has her world entirely changed when she discovers the Arson Club at her new school. Covering questions of morality, choice, and destruction, the novel hits a chord with the rebellious, feeling, overwhelmed teen in all of us." (Elena Sheppard, HelloGiggles)
"Jesse Ball has written an unforgettably memorable character in the pyromaniac Lucia, who anyone who was once a cynical teenager will recognize and relate to." (Jarry Lee, Buzzfeed)
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