HOW TO START A FIRE by Lisa Lutz

HOW TO START A FIRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three friends try to muddle through their complicated lives.

Kate Smirnoff, Anna Fury, and Georgianna "George" Leoni become friends at UC Santa Cruz in the early 1990s. Almost immediately after becoming a trio, they take a road trip to hike among the giant coastal redwoods of Northern California. George is pretty and athletic; Kate is an expert on redwoods, a topic which is just one in a long line of quirky obsessions; and intelligent, ambitious Anna turns out to be a raging alcoholic. Over the next two decades, the women will find opportunities to reconnect as their lives, and the nature of their friendship, carry on in a constant state of flux. They fall in and out of marriages, careers, cities, and winning or losing sides of battles with their personal demons. There is also a pivotal instance of violence, revealed about halfway through the book, which forever changes their friendship. Unfortunately, that moment comes after the book’s structural flaws are already too obvious, the narrative becoming such a disjointed collage that it's hard for the reader to establish any cause and effect. Lutz doesn’t allow these women to spend enough time in one place to make them come to life as individuals or as friends. There are coy hints at a plot that never materializes. The chapters jump wildly back and forth from one year, one point of view, one setting to another, with a parade of characters that whisks by at a dizzying speed, until the book becomes little more than a list of names and places.

This novel is instantly forgettable. Fans and curious new readers should stick to Lutz’s bestselling Izzy Spellman mystery series (The Last Word, 2013, etc.).

Pub Date: May 12th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-544-41163-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2015




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