How to Set a Fire and Why (Hardcover)
Fourteen year old Lucia Stanton is reminiscent of Huck Finn, Scout, and other legendary young characters. She lives with her eccentric aunt in a one room garage, her father is dead, and her mother has been institutionalized. Lucia is sarcastic, funny, cynical, and more intelligent than many of the adults that she encounters. Arriving at her new school, having been expelled from her previous one after stabbing a classmate in the neck with a pencil, she discovers the Arson Club. Armed with only her wit, and her dad’s zippo, she’s ready to set the world on fire. Jesse Ball’s newest novel is captivating, harrowing, and so much fun!— From Susan Recommends
July 2016 Indie Next List
“On page one of Ball's new novel, 16-year-old Lucia Stanton gets kicked out of school for stabbing the star basketball player in the neck with a pencil. Lucia is a delinquent, a philosopher, a shard of glass. She's also an aspiring arsonist and an iconoclast, who is vibrant, alive, and charming in a misanthropic way. Ball's prose is precise and deceptively spare, his message dynamic in what he doesn't write. Enlightenment thinkers used the symbol of the flame to represent the power and transmission of knowledge. It's in this tradition that How to Set a Fire and Why becomes Ball's pyrotechnic masterpiece.”
— Matt Nixon (M), The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN
A teenage girl. A shattering loss. An obsession with a secret arson club. This is the story of a girl who has nothing 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 intel-ligence 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 sud-denly lit up. As Lucia's fascination with the Arson Club grows, her story becomes one of misguided friendship and, ultimately, destruction.
About the Author
JESSE BALL (1978- ). Born in New York. The author of fourteen books, most recently the novel How to Set a Fire and Why. His works have been published to acclaim in many parts of the world and translated into more than a dozen languages. He is on the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, won the 2008 Paris Review Plimpton Prize, was long-listed for the National Book Award, and has been a fellow of the NEA, Creative Capital, and the Guggenheim Foundation.