How To Set Fire And Why was a unique but odd novel that followed youngster Lucia as she quipped about her life and the cast of characters she encountered daily. There were so many things about this that I normally can’t stand in a book that I was amazed I liked this as much as I did. The lack of quotation marks, chunky writing where individual thoughts appeared in paragraphs separated from each other by large spaces, and stream of consciousness style narration all made this a brilliantly crafted story.
Lucia expressed everything she thought, so in the course of detailing one story she ventured into several tangents. That worked for me because her thoughts were humorous and smart. She was a sarcastic young lady, a trait that made her seem more mature. After a crisis in her home, Lucia lived with her aunt, and the abnormality of the situation was a solid basis for Lucia acting out at school. Not only did she have a hard time fitting in with her peers, she also talked back to the teachers by making truthful comments that were slightly rude – albeit hilarious!
True to the title, Lucia was obsessed with fire and carried around her father’s lighter. I suppose fire was at the heart of this story, but there were so many other elements that it was not a major focus. There actually wasn’t much of a plot here. This story followed Lucia for a few weeks, but nothing major happened and she didn’t really grow as a person. It was just sort of a quirky novel with lots of snarky thoughts and observations.
Somehow this was enjoyable and entertaining, although it would definitely not be for everyone.