Read How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball Online


A startling, subversive novel about a teenage girl who has lost everything and will burn anything.Fourteen-year-old Lucia is a young narrator whose voice will long ring in your ears. She is angry with almost everyone, especially people who tell her what to do. She follows the one rule that makes any sense to her: Don’t Do Things You Aren’t Proud Of. Orphaned and living witA startling, subversive novel about a teenage girl who has lost everything and will burn anything.Fourteen-year-old Lucia is a young narrator whose voice will long ring in your ears. She is angry with almost everyone, especially people who tell her what to do. She follows the one rule that makes any sense to her: Don’t Do Things You Aren’t Proud Of. Orphaned and living with her elderly aunt in poverty in the converted garage of a large mansion, Lucia makes her way through the world with only a book, a Zippo lighter, and a pocket full of stolen licorice. Expelled from school, again, Lucia spends her days riding the bus to visit her mother in The Home. When Lucia discovers a secret Arson Club, she will do anything to be a part of it. Her own arson manifesto is a marvellous anarchist pamphlet, written with biting wit and striking intelligence.The voice of teenaged Lucia is a tour de force: a brilliant, wrenching cry from the heart and mind of a super-smart, funny girl who can’t help telling us the truth, a riveting chronicle of family, misguided friendship, and loss.How to Set a Fire and Why is Jesse Ball’s most accessible novel yet; after Silence Once Begun and A Cure for Suicide, the pyrotechnics on display here will dazzle....

Title : How to Set a Fire and Why
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781925355475
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

How to Set a Fire and Why Reviews

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-28 10:40

    Do you remember as a child how easy it seemed to solve life's problems? If all the rich people shared their excess, then there would be no poor. Simple, right? In How to Set a Fire and Why, a teenage girl: Lucia discusses how she would go about making this the norm. No homelessness, no hunger, no more daily struggling, and certainly no fat old money staring down their noses at the one's who weren't born so lucky. But Lucia is sort of special. Her personal life stressors combined with her impatient but advanced thought processes have dropped her impulse control down to zero. She wants this to happen and she wants everyone on Most adolescents on the brim of independence need a sense of control. They can smell the freedom but they can't reach it and it's enough to drive anyone crazy. Lucia finds her control in her late father's trusty Zippo lighter. It creates fire if she allows it. Things are not on fire because she has not made it so. She has total control of what burns. She alone chooses.I absolutely loved Lucia's character. She's angry, entitled, unapologetic, in-your-face, unchallenged, and bored as most kids with smart minds usually are. While there may be a lot going on with her, her message is almost childlike at its core. Life has been unfair to her, she's grieving and alone, she wants life to be be better. I am slowly but surely making my way through Jesse Ball's books and this one is my favorite to date. I'm looking forward to the next. My favorite quote: "You will keep it in your pocket as a sort of token. Stick your hand in there now and then as you go around and remember: all the buildings that exist, all the grand structures of wealth and power, they remain standing because you permit them to remain. With this little lick of flame in your pocket, with this little gift of Prometheus, you can reduce everyone to a sort of grim equality. All those who ride on a high horse may be made to walk. Therefore when you are at the bank and the bank manager speaks roughly to you, when you are denied entrance to a restaurant or other place of business, when you are made to work longer than you should need to, when you are driven out of your own little dwelling and made to live in the street, reach into your pocket, caress your own little vehicle of flame and feel the comfort there. We shall set fires—and when we set them, we shall know why."

  • Jessica Sullivan
    2019-01-27 09:32

    This is my third Jesse Ball novel and I have to say: I can’t think of another contemporary author who has such an original and inventive voice and style. The best thing about Ball is that he’s no one-trick pony: the only thing his books have in common is that they are each wholly unique.In How to Set a Fire and Why, his protagonist is a teenage girl named Lucia, who tells us her story through a series of journal entries. The best way I can describe Lucia is like this: Imagine Holden Caulfield if he were into arson, class warfare and vigilante justice. If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, I don’t know what to tell you.Lucia’s father is dead and her mother is in a mental institution. She lives with her 75-year-old aunt, who fully supports her niece’s myriad outlets for teen rebellion. After getting kicked out of her previous high school, Lucia finds a way to fit in at her new school: she join’s a secret Arson Club.I’m afraid I’m making this all sound very dark, but it’s not. Lucia’s voice is hilarious, sardonic and sarcastic. She’s smart enough to rationalize her penchant for destruction, insightful enough to clarify that while she doesn’t think there’s meaning in anything, she also doesn’t find nihilism exciting.Lucia is a unique new voice in teen rebellion, convinced that what she sets out to do is right and just. Most of us have been there before, though hopefully not to the point of committing felonies. Still, it’s hard to feel anything but love for this subversive character.I recommend this book to anyone who is drawn to quirky novels, from Chuck Palahniuk’s nihilism and anarchy to Miranda July’s peculiar tenderness.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-01-17 07:35

    Lucia Stanton is a cynical 14-year-old misfit who lives with her elderly aunt in a garage. At first she only supports the idea of arson, but events draw her into getting personally involved. This is one of those fairly rare novels that stand out immediately for the first-person voice. Lucia reminded me of Holden Caulfield or of Mim Malone from David Arnold’s Mosquitoland. She’s like a cynical philosopher. For as heartbreaking as her family history is, she was always either making me laugh or impressing me with her wisdom. Although this is his sixth novel, I hadn’t heard much about Jesse Ball prior to picking it up. His skill at creating the interior world of a troubled 14-year-old girl leads me to believe that the rest of his work would be well worth a look.See my full review at The Bookbag.

  • Michael Livingston
    2019-02-13 11:27

    I loved this - Lucia's voice is blisteringly funny, dark and unapologetically idealistic. She's been dealt a shit hand in life and she's angry at the fakes, idiots and condescending adults that she has to deal with every day. The writing is fantastic - I completely bought into Lucia as a narrator and was knocked out by her smart, sad and hilarious take on the world. I'm definitely going to chase down more of Jesse Ball's books.

  • Marianne
    2019-02-15 12:35

    “I … thought about the fire. I know it was just an abandoned building but I felt like something had happened, a real thing for once. My aunt’s stroke had felt pretty real too. I guess real things happen all at once, and then you go back to the false parade of garbage that characterizes modern life” How To Set a Fire And Why is the sixth novel by American author, Jesse Ball. Lucia Stanton lives in virtual poverty with her elderly Aunt Margaret in a garage at the back of a messy garden. She has been thrown out of her last school for anti-social behaviour and now attends Whistler High School. When her aunt gives her a notebook with a black felted cover, she decides to use in to write down her predictions: The Book Of How Things Will Go.It is apparent from her narrative that Lucia is intelligent: a lot smarter than some of her teachers. But Lucia has a subversive streak, and her aunt supports her individuality. Along with predictions, Lucia relates the events of her life in an almost stream-of-consciousness style. And, after some interaction with would-be fire-setters at her new school, she also records in her notebook, her own pamphlet: HOW TO SET A FIRE AND WHY.Lucia’s behaviour may be related to the reason that her mother is essentially catatonic in a care facility, that her father is dead (his Zippo lighter is her only remaining piece of him), and that her aunt is now her guardian. But whatever those events may be, they are never revealed to the reader. Lucia is bright and audacious, but for older readers, may be a little difficult to relate to, and some readers may have difficulty with the lack of quotation marks for speech. Kelly Blair has designed a brilliantly clever cover to showcase this highly original novel. 3.5★s

  • Jill
    2019-02-03 06:31

    If J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield had a tryst with Stephen King’s Carrie, perhaps she would be a bit like Lucia Stanton – cynical, disillusioned, subversive, self-aware, and lost. Her father is dead, her mother is ailing, and she lives full-time with her destitute yet caring aunt, in a converted garage. Every day, she wears the same “uniform” to school, where she is marginalized. Unlike her schoolmates, who are burning with the promise of adolescence, Lucia’s flame may be predestined to quickly burn out. Until she meets up with other misfits in the Sonar Club (an acronym for Arson Club) and seriously begins to explore how she can set fire to the world.There is, indeed, a manifesto printed within these pages that fulfills the promise of the title: stating how to set a fire and why. It is the “why” that fuels the narrative of the book. For those whose promising flames are being extinguished by hypocrisy and injustice, inability to embrace those who are different (or even to recognize their potential), and forced to participate in the “false parade of garbage that characterizes modern life”, burning down the past and striking out for new horizons (evocative of Huckleberry Finn) sometimes seems the only solution.I expect to be prodded and provoked by Jesse Ball’s prose; no two past efforts have been alike. How to Build A Fire And Why does not disappoint.

  • Carla Stafford
    2019-01-18 05:42

    Lucia is a tough, young woman who doesn't fit in. Her dad is dead, her mom is in an institution, and she lives with her (seemingly and endearingly) batty but philosophically enlightened old aunt. Lucia is well read, and even more well spoken-she has nothing but her somewhat twisted ideals, the notebook she writes random predictions in, and her stolen licorice. Lucia is an avid reader, with advanced thoughts and a vocabulary that would shame the kids of Dawson's Creek. All Lucia has leftover from her old life however, is anger, pain, abandonment, and her dad's old zippo lighter. So when the measly shreds of her world are ripped loose, and blow away-what else is Lucia to do, but to look for a way to equalize the ruthless, arbitrary ways of the world in an effort to return ashes to ashes-and begin again phoenix style.How to Start a Fire and Why, by Jesse Ball is an addictive read. As a reader, I found myself liking Lucia-feeling for her-agreeing with her on numerous points, while seeing the flaws in her judgement. Lucia has a powerful voice, that I will not soon forget.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-06 11:47

    Wow, what a book. I can't figure out another author who writes like Jesse Ball does. He suffuses so much artistry and philosophy into his writing and characters that his books are hard to classify. Longer review to come. This is a toughie to digest, but I am very impressed and highly recommend it.

  • Summer
    2019-01-19 12:32

    "She told me I was a good writer, but I could tell she didn't care about it. Good writer, like, one of the ones who leaves the good parts out."Jesse Ball, this is how I feel about you. The whole book I was waiting, waiting, waiting for something interesting to happen. Every moment felt like it was just a temporary fix to a plot going nowhere, distracting the reader from realizing that they're wasting their time. The school doesn't even have an Arson Club! The blurb is misleading. It's like he wants you to believe Lucia becomes involved and interesting, and that's not the case. She's just dull with new people surrounding her. (But, like I said, not an Arson Club.)What seemed to be one of the most important parts, the pamphlet itself, was terribly boring and seemed to lose Lucia's voice (in my opinion.) When I finally became interested, once she actually set the fire, it was over. It felt like, "We did it! We climbed to the top of the mountain!" and didn't get the descend. I wanted aftermath. I wanted consequences. On the other hand, maybe that was for the best. It probably would've disappointed me as much as the rest of the book did anyway, so maybe it was better to end on a "high note," if I can even truly call that one. Maybe I would've enjoyed it more if I liked Lucia as a character, but I didn't. It felt like Jesse was trying too hard to make her jaded. I couldn't help but think the entire way through, "Jesse Ball has no fucking clue what it means to be a teenage girl."

  • Joseph
    2019-02-09 12:43

    Nice piece of contemporary pop fiction told by a 14 year old who has some problems and more than average intelligence.

  • Ylenia
    2019-01-29 11:36

    What the actual heck did I just read?Update: I finished this more than a week ago & I'm still confused AF.

  • Jaclyn Crupi
    2019-02-04 10:22

    I have wanted to re-read this for ages and it's even better on a second reading. Jesse Ball truly is the real deal. He spoiled us with three books in as many years and I'm not coping well waiting for what comes next. This book is for those who love unique character studies/voices along the lines of Eileen and Sorry to Disrupt the Peace.

  • Shawn Mooney
    2019-01-27 12:32

    Lucia is a badass teenager, living with her aunt in a garage converted into a rental suite they haven't been able to pay the rent on for quite a while. She visits her mom in the mental hospital once a week despite her mom having no idea who her daughter or she herself is. Lucia's most treasured possession is her dead dad's Zippo lighter, which she guards with her life because "every time someone touches it there is less of him on it. His corpse is actually on it—I mean, not his death corpse, but his regular one, the body that falls off us all the time." A classmate violated her don't-touch-the-lighter rule, she stabbed him with her pencil, and Lucia got expelled from yet another school. It sounds dark, right? It is dark, but joyously so because of Lucia's wit, brutal honesty, and general badassedness. For example, here she is in a counseling session, when the guidance counsellor makes the mistake of quoting a Rumi poem at her:I said, you small-minded bitch, you think that is poetry? Of all Rumi’s goddamned poems, you pick that one? Did you find it in some psych-nonsense anthology? That has to be his worst poem, and it isn’t even translated well. How does it feel to wade around in life so hopelessly? You are just mired in shit. You’re so limited …I laughed some more. Of all the poems, that one.She was looking at me in shock. I think she was actually speechless, so I gave her some more.Whoever’s calm and sensible is insane.What?I said, that’s Rumi. Or didn’t you know?Lucia, as you might have already gathered, has trouble making friends. At her new school, she does have a bit better luck, especially when she gets wind of an arson club. That sounds right up her alley.I felt bad for her, worried about her, loved her, rooted for her. She cracked me up a hundred times. I finished reading the novel a couple of weeks ago: Lucia continues to stomp around, brilliant and brash, inside me. Like she owns the place.

  • Kyle Muntz
    2019-02-17 12:26

    I have conflicted feelings about this novel--it's a complete departure for Jesse Ball, and in a lot of ways it's a success. It's a kind of anti-coming-of-age novel made up mostly of detached, but fascinating and counterintuitive moments of introspection; the whole thing is fun to read, but there's also something sort of... thin to it. But it does a lot of things very well, and it's surprising how Lucia's voice carries a book so light on narrative or fleshed out characters. Not that the characters aren't interesting either--it's just, the novel only lingers on them as much as Lucia does, and for her, everyone is always just passing through.I think it works, basically, though it seems sort of like a curiosity rather than something I'd want to see again. The whole thing is more like a mood than a narrative, a sort of pleasant, bitter teenage haze with a few bits of lyricism and imagination that give a very delicate nod to Ball's other novels--but ultimately a bit flat and detached, especially when it came to the emotional weight I was hoping for near the end. I'd maybe even compare it to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book I loved as a teenager, though this book is sort of the opposite thematically, with a weaker overall arc but a very deliberate cleverness from moment to moment. For me, it doesn't stand up to Silence Once Begun or A Cure for Suicide (which are both favorites), but it was interesting and I'm curious if it means Ball has other surprises like this on the way for us. I've been reading him for over a decade now and I'm eager to follow his work in any direction it might go.

  • R K
    2019-01-28 07:48

    This is my first book by Jesse Ball and I can say with full confidence that a new author has joined the ranking of favourite authors. Going to the teenage years. The years where one is supposedly at the apex of their life. Where emotions run high and life is set against you. This is the stereotypical view of a teenager and their mental state. Into this world comes Lucia and she full of rage. Tentatively waiting for her ignition. Realistically speaking life is not a very happy one. It's not life's fault but that of its controller, humans. Sometimes you keep getting hit until you're past your breaking point and all you want to do is hit back. AHHHHHH....My brain cannot handle the treasure this book it. It's so good.I really like this style of writing where it's more of a journalistic style so sometimes emotions are told to you bluntly. A lot in fact is told to you straightly but there is still room for interpretation by the reader. That's what makes for a good story. Why is it that we love old fairy tales? Despite being told straight to your face there is still room for interpretation. Room for ambiguity and self reflection by the reader.Ball himself introduces so many reflections and thoughts and essentially pokes and prods at society and their/your ideals. It's just such a good book that it's taken the thoughts that are in my head. I can't even write a coherent review.

  • Joachim Stoop
    2019-02-04 07:47

    How versatile one can be!?This book is typical and atypical Jesse Ball. Loved it!Two tips: 1. Read it as young adult 2. Listen to the audiobook (the voice of the girl is exactly like the voice of the girl in the book!)

  • Moses
    2019-02-11 04:37

    Jesse Ball continues to impress me. How to Set a Fire and Why is about living with different morals, and the consequences of doing it. Ball constructs two morality systems–one, a hedonistic one that Lucia's family lives by, and the other an anarchist one focused on bringing about wealth equality, the credo of the arson club.Lucia slowly grafts the second onto the first one in the midst of her life unraveling, figuring out what it means for her to be true to her morals in society. This is complicated when she gets a tremendous opportunity, to go to an accelerated high school which practically guarantees her admission to a top college.Ball uses the language of young adult fiction to tell the ultimate growing up story, the story of wrestling through how to live a life. However, contrary to most young adult fiction, and in keeping with Ball's style, the structure of the book is fascinating and beautiful. He doesn't worry too much about consistency and switches from style to style quickly, without getting too self-conscious.

  • Meg
    2019-02-09 06:39

    For more reviews, visit www.ebooksandcooks.comSo last week I wrote about Before the Fall and how I felt its author couldn’t write female characters with depth. Jesse Ball shows that male authors can write multidimensional female characters. Lucia, the protagonist and narrator of How to Set a Fire and Why, has a bit of masculine swagger, but a lot of women (including me) can relate to that to some degree. Lucia is a tough, sarcastic, whip-smart young woman. She has been dealt a lot of reverses in life, and it makes her a very interesting character.Lucia’s father is dead and her mother is living in a mental institution. These two things are related, but why this happened is one of many unanswered questions in this book. She lives with her father’s sister, referred to in the book simply as Aunt. The only thing that she has kept that belonged to her father is his Zippo lighter. And that’s what has landed her in the principal’s office at the start of this book. A boy stole the Zippo, and she tried to stab him in the neck with a pencil. She gets expelled and heads to a new school.She and her aunt have an interesting view of ethics. One example she gives is that if someone has a guitar just sitting in her house that she never uses, then it is okay to steal that guitar to use it or to sell it. However, if she loves the guitar and plays it every day, then it is not ok to steal. These fungible ethics are what make the whole book possible. When Lucia starts at Whistler High School in the next town over, she already has a reputation as a dangerous girl, and the teachers are all over her. Since she doesn’t always behave like a lady, they believe she isn’t smart, but Lucia reads everything and anything. She reads authors so obscure I’ve never read or heard about them, and she has a natural ability to read people, too. Basically, she has book smarts and street smarts.Then she hears about Sonar Club. S-O-N-A-R = A-R-S-O-N The ideas of Arson Club fall in line with her ideas on redistributing wealth and resources. Lucia believes people who hoard wealth and trample on other people deserve a comeuppance. Arsonists in the club commit their crimes to take away means from those they feel don’t deserve it. “What cannot be shared should be destroyed” is their creed. When Lucia gets detention, she finds people who know more about Arson Club and gets invited to her first meeting.Throughout this book, Lucia gets a little ahead and then is dealt another reverse. For her, life is that mean person playing Uno that keeps on putting down Draw 4, moving winning further and further away. She’s able to make a few friends in addition to Arson Club and her aunt, but ultimately that’s not enough, and she makes a drastic choice. The book is not tied in a neat little bow. There are a lot of unanswered questions. If you don’t like that, avoid this book. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.

  • Laura Hogensen
    2019-02-07 08:44

    As a reader, this makes you separate yourself from the narrator. Lucia is clearly damaged and trying her best to cope. Because she's brilliant, her deadpan narration of her life and the things that happen to her might lure you in to thinking this is all ok or normal. Far from it. This was a hard read for me because the whole time I knew that things aren't going to be "ok". There was never going to be magical adult intervention. And while I cheered Lucia's ingenuity, I was also angry at the world that lets such a talented but also fragile child slip further and further from innocence and untarnished happiness.

  • Isabelle Smith
    2019-01-27 05:42

    It's another book written by a man who thinks he understands the mind of a teenage girl. This book is not what I expected, it actually focuses more on her relationships with her family that the arson club, which makes this book very cliche and played out.

  • Presley
    2019-02-13 09:26

    I’m not sure how to describe my thoughts on this book. It gave me so many feelings about what the world is really like. I mean, I know that there is a reality in which we all live but the way that Lucia expresses her thoughts, in this very stream of consciousness way of conveying her beliefs and convictions was so refreshing. Young protagonists always get a lot of flack for their immature nature, and maybe Lucia isn't an exception, but she's definitely ahead of her peers when it comes to dealing with the hard aspects of life. Also, she's incredibly intelligent. Her family life is unconventional but she has a caring aunt who believes in her, and without having to discipline her the way most adults would, Lucia already knows that she shouldn't do things that she's not proud of. She holds onto pieces of the people that she loves in very special and different ways and from that the reader understands that Lucia is a sensitive soul. It doesn't matter if she stabbed someone in the neck with a pencil at this point (it's not really a spoiler, it's on page 3) because she was being protective of the very few things that she has. Sentimental heart.There were some mentions of death in this book and it made me think about a lot of things like how you never own a situation because the natural order of things are always out of your hands. Lucia's Predictions and What Happened narrations are proof that she's not in control of what happens in the very tiniest details of her life, she can only guess what happens to her based on what she knows about herself and her environment."That's the trouble with the hospital--they find all the things that have been killing you forever, and that you are okay with, you're okay with those things slowly killing you, but then they find them and get rid of them, and then other things replace the things you were fine with, and you are not fine, not fine at all with the new things, and you die, slowly, in utter misery, just the way you would have before, only before you were pretty okay with the manner of it, but now you're not." (130)I find this passage to be the most striking, and the one that I relate to the most. Lately, I find myself thinking a lot about my own mortality and this passage, gushing with various thoughts and feelings, reflects exactly how I felt about a personal experience that changed everything for me. It's not an eloquent passage, but it speaks volumes to those who find themselves being okay with this death thing as it's the natural order of things, but once they've found the thing that's killing you, you're no longer okay with death being natural anymore. Suddenly life becomes uncertain.This book is marketed towards people who enjoyed Salinger's very unreliable narrator, Holden Caulfield, who happens to be one of my favourite literary characters. And I agree. Lucia Stanton of How to Set a Fire and Why holds a place in my heart. Perhaps these two narrators are unreliable but at the same time they're very honest. This novel is as introspective as The Catcher in the Rye. It explores if adults can be trusted, and the wariness of young persons who have to grow up too fast due to situations out of their control. Ultimately, people let you down. Just don't let yourself down.

  • Ray
    2019-02-15 07:25

    Jesse Ball is brave to create this book’s narrator, Lucia Stanton, a character that brings Holden Caulfield so quickly and strongly to mind. Come too close to HC and Lucia Stanton will be labeled derivative. Stray too far and the authentic voice of a smart, cynical, disillusioned, wise-before-his/her-time young adult will be lost. Ball found the sweet spot in between with this sad, wonderful story. High-schooler Lucia is living in a garage with her aunt. They are so poor that Lucia shoplifts for groceries. Her father is absent, and her mother is in a mental hospital. Her near-desperate circumstances, the loss of her parents, and her healthy disapproval of a social system that tolerates a chasm between rich and poor drive her to real and imagined violence, tense interactions with adults (who mostly understand only a fraction of what Lucia knows about life and social order), and deft navigation of peer relationships. Her observations about and interactions with others are often hilarious, described with her ever-present cynicism. Lucia needs a way to express her loss and anger, and pyrotechnics is obviously on the agenda from the start. Getting to know Lucia makes this book worth the read all by itself, but Ball also skillfully kept me wondering where her grieving, clear-eyed genius would wind up in the final pages – and what she would do. I was not disappointed.

  • Robert Wechsler
    2019-02-10 04:33

    I read this right after reading Christine Schutt’s novel Florida. They have a lot in common. Both are the first-person stories of girls whose fathers are gone, whose mothers are institutionalized, who live with relatives, and who are smart, bookwormy outsiders. Both are told in childlike but intelligent voices, although Schutt’s narrator is much more lyrical than Ball’s. Schutt’s narrator is an adult looking back, while Ball’s is sixteen.Novels and films about the childhoods of smart outsiders are clichéd as they come, and not my cup of tea. But I had heard good things about Schutt, and I liked Ball’s Silence Once Begun, which I read early this year.Neither novel was particularly clichéd, but I didn’t find the novels particularly successful either. Florida is much less controlled, both in structure and in language; it wanders through many years and characters, and contains beautiful passages. Fire is very focused in its flat style, the narrator’s present, and her anger and concern for the truth. Fire is also more humorous (dark). Because I prefer this sort of focus (and humor), I preferred Fire, but I respect the risks that Schutt took. On the other hand, I found Fire too detailed and too long (it is, however, a very easy read).

  • Jessica
    2019-02-02 09:48

    Jesse Ball's How to Set a Fire and Why offers readers insight into the depths of loss, the power of love, the immortality of parenting, and the meaning of genius. The protagonist, Lucia, lives with her aunt after her father dies and her mom winds up in a mental institution. Their relationships with Lucia, however, linger long after they've been extinguished by death and disease. So, anyway, Lucia lives with her aunt in a little converted garage behind some guy's house and they are very poor - but they have a terrific relationship, so I guess they're not nearly as poor as most. Lucia gets in trouble all the time and winds up having to change schools on multiple occasions. At Whistler, she settles in a tiny bit, becomes known to her teachers as a promising student, and even makes some friends, but don't think this leads to a happily ever after sort of scenario. It doesn't. Instead, we travel with Lucia through her days and nights, and come to know her brilliance and her pain. And of course, we learn How to Set a Fire And Why. A must read for anyone who enjoys coming of age novels, works about loss and grief, adventure stories, or stories that make you think. Which I guess is another way of saying that everyone should read this book.

  • Mary (BookHounds)
    2019-02-02 12:47

    MY THOUGHTSThis is a story for those that enjoy a bit of anarchy in their reading. Lucia Stanton lives with her elderly aunt with limited means since her father died and her mother is now in a mental institution. This has been her reality since she was small. Now in high school, she has been kicked out of one and now entering into a new situation. With anger issues and feelings of loss, she thinks she can actually try to make friends. The only remaining item from her father is an old Zippo lighter that she carries with her everywhere, much like a security blanket.When Lucia is invited to the Sonar Club (ARSON, people!) and thus begins a new life. The club has a manifesto that she thinks needs improvement, so she is off to write a new one. She seems to take two steps forward before society moves her back three. It took me a bit of time to really get into the story but towards the end I was in tears at just how unfair life was to this girl and how she tried so hard but just couldn't get a break. Fans of Chuck Palahianuk will truly love this off centered story. Parents: this is best for older teens since there is language and violence.

  • Text Publishing
    2019-01-20 09:25

    Wildly funny with dark, grief-washed undercurrents, this book delivers all the feels. Lucia is a whip-smart teenager with a fierce intelligence and cracking wit, who challenges authority and thinks deeply about the world around her.We fell for Lucia instantly and felt connected to her rage, apathy, sensitivity, musings and ideas. From the whirl of thoughts she hashes out in her notebook to the few possessions she carries defiantly with her, this is a girl who pulls no punches. You’ll be hooked from the very first line. Jesse Ball is ‘a young genius who hits all of the right notes’ – Chicago TribuneFor a preview of the book visit: Ball is headed to Australia this month, check out his events here:

  • adam (booksss.0k)
    2019-02-07 04:31

    I really did try to give this a chance and I really wanted to like it a lot, and I did (in the beginning). The main character just ended up getting on my nerves and I really thought her view of the world and people was very different from mine. I really lost interest when I hit the quote about men only liking things written by men. I am someone who doesn't care about what gender someone is, what race someone is, or what sexuality someone is. That comment about really just gave me a bad taste in my mouth and I didn't want to continue. I was having issues with looking past differences before this point, but I also tried to continue the story. I will not say that I will never finish this, but I know that I am putting it down for now and the foreseeable feature.

  • Chris Roberts
    2019-01-24 06:40

    The arsonist as stick figure...With a torch to the house...And a spring in her gait...The Fire Starter's heart glows...Filled with glad hate.........The After Time......The fire hoses were powerful...The water reaching so high into the sky...It reached the sun in an instant...A flash of water and fire colliding in a dazzling flash of light....The sun falling madly from the sky, like a billion roman candles...Streaming and spiraling to the earth...Once spent, the town was awash in smoke and shadow...Darkness loves us and loves us...Chris Roberts, God

  • Ted
    2019-02-07 04:22

    The problem with stories featuring disenfranchised teens infects this book. The adultness of the author seeps through too frequently and also unevenly.I felt like this book was trying very hard to be a mash up between "Heathers" and "Catcher In the Rye". I liked it better than "Catcher".The diary format of the book was interesting and well done. I am not sure I cared for the ending (spoiler, so I'll leave it alone).

  • Kelleen
    2019-02-03 12:47

    Quick read. A teenager angry at the world and processing her own angst. First 50 pages were good, after that it was really boring. She makes predictions about how life will go, but it's mostly just her routines, and because they are routine, that's what happens.