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. “Lucia details a philosophy that smartly parallels the novel’s own–namely, that writing literature is, like arson, an act of creation and destruction...A song of teenage heartbreak sung with a movingly particular sadness, a mature meditation on how actually saying something, not just speaking, is what most makes a voice human.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)