Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How to Set Fire and Why - Jesse Ball

This is the follow up by highly acclaimed author Jesse Ball, who wrote of A Cure for Suicide, is back with a more  singular, but still blistering novel, about a teenage girl who has lost everything—and, ultimately, will burn anything.

Ok, so Lucia's father's died ; her mother is committed; she's living in a garage-turned-bedroom with her aunt.  Life's pretty stink.  Then she gets kicked out of school—again.  Her only touch points are a book, a zippo lighter, a pocket full of stolen licorice, a biting wit, and striking intelligence she tries desperately to hide.  She spends most of her time on the bus commuting backwards and forwards to the asylum, to visit her mother.  She has one rule to live by Don't do things you aren't proud of.  So far this is the plot to The Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Heathers, Juno and pretty much every misfit Teen film I ever got dragged to in the eighties.  Then it gets a bit more interesting.  Lucia discovers her new school has a secret Arson Club and she willing to do anything to be a part of it.   It's really the coming of age, belonging tale that all those movies were about - with the quirky twist and the anti- Yank high School sentiment.  Think of it as the 16 Candles for the post Columbine generation.  Oh, and yes, it's dark and hilarious in places.  Don't take any of it seriously and you'll be fine.  The plot runs a predictable course Lucia's life in the Arson Club, er,  is suddenly lit up. Her need to belong is almost as strong as her need to break everything to see how they work - or rather, don't.  And as her fascination with the Arson Club grows, her story becomes one of misguided friendship and, ultimately, destruction.  Predictable, yes.  Worth reading...mmmm.  No.

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