How to Set a Fire and Why (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Jesse Ball is often accused of being "experimental," a characterization that may scare some people off and one that also tends to overshadow the emotional resonance of his work. How to Set a Fire and Why is Ball's most accessible novel: it's the story of 16-year old Lucia Stanton, a precocious and pugnacious girl struggling to find footing in a world seemingly aligned against her. Lucia possesses an unforgettably winsome voice that will win you over in the same way Holden Caufield's did in The Catcher in the Rye. 


— sparks


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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781101870570
ISBN-10: 1101870575
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Publication Date: July 5th, 2016
Pages: 304
Language: English