“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, The Booksellers at Laurelwood
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 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. 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 suddenly lit up. As Lucia’s fascination with the Arson Club grows, her story becomes one of misguided friendship and, ultimately, destruction.