How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz

Synopsis: From a bestselling writer, a story of unexpected friendship-three women thrown together in college who grow to adulthood united and divided by secrets, lies, and a single night that shaped all of them

When UC Santa Cruz roommates Anna and Kate find passed-out Georgiana Leoni on a lawn one night, they wheel her to their dorm in a shopping cart. Twenty years later, they gather around a campfire on the lawn of a New England mansion. What happens in between-the web of wild adventures, unspoken jealousies, and sudden tragedies that alter the course of their lives-is charted with sharp wit and aching sadness in this meticulously constructed novel.

Anna, the de facto leader, is fearless and restless-moving fast to stay one step ahead of her demons. Quirky, contemplative Kate is a natural sidekick but a terrible wingman (“If you go home with him, might I suggest breathing through your mouth”). And then there’s George: the most desired woman in any room, and the one most likely to leave with the worst man.

Review: I always have a great pleasure while reading Lisa Lutz’s books, she has an undeniable talent to draw us into her stories. The Spellmans was one of my favorite series and it’s true that the release of a new novel could only intrigue me. In addition, while the author is known for her humorous and ultimately a little chick-lit novels, we can find here something very different. Yes, here we follow three young women, their hopes, their demons, their life and their mistakes.

Lisa Lutz often presents her novels in different formats and that is how we find emails, conversations theater play like and others and it’s true that I always find it very interesting. But that’s not all, and I think this may be the most unsettling point for readers, each chapter happens to be a different year. It is true that it is sometimes difficult to really understand these leaps in time, we don’t have a real logical sequence and we pass from past to future while following the three young women during their lives. It is therefore in this kind of story that we need to be really careful not to miss anything and so ignore a bit the years to really appreciate everything. I enjoyed this change even if sometimes it is true that we must be concentrated not to be too lost in the course of events.

As I said it before, we follow three very different women here. Anna is the leader of the group, a young rich girl who drift in life because of drugs, alcohol and men. This is a young woman living in excess and who does not necessarily think of the consequences of her actions on her friends. A young woman well in every respect, destroying her life without her having any problems about that. It is also true that she is going through a lot of trials and on some points, we understand how after a childhood such as hers, she feels free to the point of acting as she desires. Then there is Kate. I think that she is the character that I prefered. Kate does not come from a big family like Anna, she does not have big dreams of freedom and wealth, no, she wants only to take care of the bar of her grandfather. Yet this dream will never come true … Driven by her friends, she will follow them, assist them, and keep secrets of each and eventually evolve keeping everything to herself. This is not necessarily something simple and although Anna and George are there for her, they do not necessarily have the skills to understand her. And even if they are still present in difficult times, they also add a lot to her life. Yes Kate is a young woman we can easily understand, this means her regrets, desires and even her feeling of being lost in this life that seems to want to conform her into something she does not want to be. And finally we have George … Oh Georgianna is a complicated young woman. They’re all different the one from the other, it must be said. No, George needs a man to move on and live. And yet, although she is very beautiful and always attracts many boys, it seems that this woman does not really know how to choose a good and loving man. Oh no, because she always finds a terrible husband who uses her and throws her thereafter. Georgianna could be so much better if she could stay alone, but it appears that this condition does not suit her. And even if her friends are always there when she needs them, it is something quite difficult.

You can surely understand that, we discover three completely different persons and yet who can not live without each other. It is an intense and touching friendship that is fun to read. They pass through many things together, but always get up and move forward as best as they can. But nothing is ever simple. The story touched me and it allowed me to discover these girls with a fiery temperament. The author has perfectly managed to share the feelings of each and to make us understand their lives since they met. A very good book to discover!




22 thoughts on “How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz

  1. I used to read friendship books like this all the time. I am not sure about every chapter being a different year though-I would probably be very confused throughout. I am glad it was a good read for you 🙂

  2. Ugh, and I thought past and present was sometimes bad and confusing, but at least that’s usually consistent, so don’t think this would work for me at all. Shame though, cause it does sound great, and I like that the MC’s are completely different from one another.

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