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How to Start a Fire

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  7,095 ratings  ·  1,104 reviews
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 gathe
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Lisa Lutz It's probably too late for this and I haven't figured out the best way to get this link out there, but the discussion guide on my website has a timeli…moreIt's probably too late for this and I haven't figured out the best way to get this link out there, but the discussion guide on my website has a timeline.
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
"All good things are wild and free." Henry David Thoreau
That's pretty much these three girls as young adults in college. Anna and Kate meet George in college after she passed out on their lawn. They throw her in a shopping cart and wheel her into their room.

These three women are written so that you can't help but watch them. You might not always like their characters but they could step off the pages at anytime and probably bitch at you about something.
You have wild Anna. The rich girl wi
Apr 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
Meandering and pointless, this was a real struggle to get through. I was expecting light chick lit or maybe a touching story of female friendship, but this was neither. Each chapter abruptly jumps across time and space in the lives of three women and makes the book feel like a long collection of unconnected episodes that are dry in themselves, yet don't add up to any greater whole. Flat characters. I had no idea what these women were thinking or feeling, and couldn't picture or bring myself to c ...more
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stories of women who meet in college and form fast, lifelong friendships are nothing new.

Except when they're written by Lisa Lutz.

In previous novels, Lutz has proven herself both an astute observer and commentator on the games men and women play. Her dialogue is sharp, insightful and funny. She dreams up characters that come alive, women that you want to emulate and be friends with. In other words, gals who blurt out the shit you wish you'd said but only think of twenty minutes later.

She has cr
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

“Who would you save in a fire, Keith Richards or Pete Townshend?”

“I don’t know.”

“The answer is Pete Townshend. A fire wouldn’t kill Keith Richards.”

Lisa Lutz – or more specifically, The Spellman Files – had been on my radar for eternity. Same as this one. I have no idea what made me finally pull the trigger. Maybe my recent discovery that I like to do more than just dip my toe in a certain genre . . . .

Or more likely
Jul 19, 2020 rated it liked it

Unlike Lisa Lutz's comic novels about the Spellman family, this novel focuses on three women who become friends in college and remain in each other's lives for decades.

Anna, Kate, and George (short for Georgiana) meet at the University of California at Santa Cruz and become roommates.

Like many college students, these prank-loving girls drink and party almost as much as they study.

In time the girls graduate and go their separate ways, but they remain close, and are usually ready to help when c
Alisha Marie
I wanted to love this book so, so bad. Here's the thing: I LOVED Lisa Lutz's Spellman Files series. While some were better than others, The Spellman Files never failed to make me feel better about life and made me laugh so hard along the way. I assumed that How to Start a Fire would be just as good as The Spellman Files series...but it wasn't not even a little bit.

I'm starting to feel an intense annoyance for anything but straightforward time lines. Unless you're having one chapter be in the pre
Nurse Lisa In Ohio (PRN Book Reviews)
Title: "How to Start a Fire"
Author: Lisa Lutz
Format: ebook via Samsung Galaxy Nook ereader.
Release info.: newly released, May, 2015.
Genre: fiction, adult fiction, chick-lit, drama, changing POV, female MC's, strong female MC(s), includes swearing, some sexual situations & adult themes.
Read: May 12-13, 2015.

My GR rating: 5 of 5 "WOWSA" stars!

Brief remarks:

Holy Moly!
I'm stingy with that fifth star typically, but I'm THROWING IT MADLY at this latest creation by Ms. Lutz!

I cannot remember now how
Nicole D.
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I loved the Spellman Files, and I think Lutz could have had a lucrative career if she did nothing but those. Obviously she realized she had more in her, and I'm glad she did for a lot of reasons. (One of them being I don't continue on with series that long, and one of them being this book.)

This is the story of the friendship of three women, told over 25 years. It is completely non-linear. Often times I find that when a book is told in this way, it's jarring for me when the timeline changes, but
Ilyssa Wesche
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I ran out of library books last night and had to go to my rainy day - in this case snowy day - book pile. I always wonder if I'm more apt to give 5 stars to a book I unexpectedly love. That's certainly what happened here - I was actually expecting a fluffy book based on misunderstandings and secrets (which I usually don't like) but instead got a very thoughtful and story about three women whose friendship that evolved over time. Plus addiction! I do love some addiction woven into fiction.

Even th
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is solidly of the genre of literary fiction books that are too well-written to be categorized as chick lit, yet still recount the stories of several dissimilar, quirky, late-blooming, thrown-together-by-chance girlfriends throughout their life trajectories from college to middle age.
As often happens in such books, the story is told from the alternating points of view of the three friends, as well as from the perspectives of various key family members or other associates with whom these
Karyn Niedert
RELEASE DATE: May 12, 2015

RATING: 5 Stars Blew off a a three week tropical vacation with Vin Diesel to read this book-AND IT WAS WORTH IT!!
GENRE: Literature/Adult Fiction/Chick Lit

AUDIENCE: Fans of previous Lisa Lutz books, readers who enjoy Fannie Flagg will like this book. The subjects touched in this book are too light to be in the Janet Evanovich/Jennifer Crusie range but not as deep as Kristin Hannah. Just read it. You’ll like it.

SERIES: Standalone

REVIEW: I’ve loved Lisa Lutz since her firs
May 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Pretty competent storytelling but is almost drowned in a morass of overly sinuous, unnecessary non-linearity. I.identify with and usually enjoy wanderlust stories, but the constant back-and-forth started making me feel like it was masking...dunno. Insubstantiality, maybe? Four months after reading this, I can barely remember anything about this story of three UC Santa Cruz gal-pals except for the constant leaps in time. Never a good sign. Ms. Lutz sporadically lets the reader of this know why sh ...more
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This was the most un-put-down-able book I've read in ages. This weekend, every time I'd try to go off and do something else, I'd find myself being drawn back to the couch and this book (needless to say, not much got done this weekend). It reminded me a bit of Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan, which I also loved. My only complaint is a minor one: I found the way the story jumped around in time to be a bit confusing. I read tons of books that aren't chronological and I never have a problem wit ...more
I got a preview copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

To be honest with you, I couldn't even finish this book. Though I don't mind when stories are not told in a sequential manner, in this case the time-jumping was extreme, and I found it very difficult to keep the storylines straight. This read could've caught me at a bad time, but after 100 pages, I was tired of trying to keep it all straight in my mind and decided to put it away.
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Mon avis en Français

My English 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
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was just recently discussing with a friend the lack of books that I feel really, strongly represent female friendships. I would love to read more books about courting and finding and sustaining friends. Too often when I find books with a large focus on friendship they portray either or both of the Hollywood stereotypes of mean girls pretending to be friends but terrorizing each other or girls with the perfect, most wonderful bestest friends ever who eat ice cream and have pillow fights. Now th ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read Lisa Lutz for awhile, because I have so many friends who are into the Spellman Files, but I just haven't been ready to commit to another series. Et voilà, a stand-alone. Perfect!

The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I did a lot of putting off other things because I'd set the book down and then decide I just had to get back to it immediately. Lutz clearly has a gift for characterization and plot. She follows three women over the course of twenty years, but she jump
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to find my reading groove - the story frequently shifts between various locations and dates over a 20 year span - but man! does it come together nicely at the end. Appreciated what this story offered - the power and love of friendships rooted in understanding, forgiveness and acceptance.
May 22, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 star rating. The structure of the book (each chapter jumped around in time hinting how things would end, and where the character's lives would intersect) made a not-so-interesting plot more interesting. Again (as most of my reviews tend to state), none of the female characters were that loveable. I understand all women are flawed, but would it be so terrible to write a female-protagonist led book with female characters that you'd actually want to be friends with? Still, a solid enough read.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I normally don't read this kind of book, but my library rarely has the newest books and there it was! I had just seen shelves of it at B&N, sooo glad I picked this up!!! Finished in 2 days, rare for me, loved the characters, such a good story!! ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I have never read any of the Spellman books simply because I do not read mystery series. They're not my thing. I found this book somewhere on some list of recommended reading for the year, though, and decided to give it a shot. Books about female friendships always have excellent potential.

This is about three women -- Kate, George, and Anna -- who meet in their freshman year of college at UC Santa Cruz and remain friends for the next thirty years. The narrative bounces back and forth across the
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I loved this book! Ms Lutz is one of my favorite authors, one who I can count on to write at least one character with deadpan humor, unpredictable behavior, or one with a mystery to solve. Lucky for me, she puts all of those characters in this book. They might not be a family of detectives, constantly spying on each other, but the three main characters Kate, Anna and George, are quirky and have their own problems to deal with, including each other. In addition, the story is told in mixed up chro ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-books
An uninspiring look at friendship between friends. Mediocre and unlikeable characters, awkward prose and a constantly shifting timeline made this book tough for me to finish. Chapters jump around over a period of 15-20 or so years in a way that makes it very hard to follow what is going on.The author relies too heavily on stereotypes (ex. Rebel girl without a care, strong/athletic jock girl, etc) and that all of the characters felt very flat. Plot events felt contrived. Disappointed as I had hea ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Different from her Spellman series but the characters are just as fantastic and the"family" dynamics are perfectly intertwined. Three girls meet in college , Anna, Kate and Georgiana. The three become sisters of the heart and as the story progresses over the years we watch them become closer, drift away, marry, divorce, change careers and grow. The book jumps around time wise but the date for each chapter does help keep you oriented. I was sorry to see this story end, I wanted ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, kindle, may-2015

This is one of those books I can't tell you why I liked it but I did. A quirky story about 3 friends and 20 years of their lives in flashbacks and flash forwards. It sounds confusing but it wasn't and I liked the characters enough to want to know how it ended. I recommend to those who don't mind a little quirky.
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I do not like the end (at the same time there is none). The "jumping around in time" structure of the book made the plot more interesting than it really is. Still, I couldn't put the book down.
L.E. Fidler

possibly because of my attachment to lutz's other work, i kept waiting for this one to turn into a sinister murder mystery where kate was anna or anna was kate and one of them killed a guy in college just to see him bleed.

or something.

i mean, the premise had "girls gone wild and homicidal" written all over it...two friends meet a girl who is passed out half naked outside their house in college...then the story started swapping years like kardashians swap cellphones and i felt for certain on
Laurie Carlson
I SO enjoyed this extraordinary book in a non-stop, read it overnight, absolutely loved this book so I am giving it 5-STARS, EASILY! This is my first Lisa Lutz book, and it blew me away! I LOVED IT!!! If you like Women's Fiction, Chick-Lit or Literature/Fiction, you're going to LOVE this book!
This book takes us on a wonderful, fictional ride of three memorable women's lives who begin their friendship in college, and it continues well into their adulthood. I thoroughly LOVED several of the scenes
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A full-bodied, hilarious, heartfelt, honest tale of three friends who meet in college and what happens over the next twenty years. Sounds like something you've read before, but this book is a fresh take in nearly every way. Whether it's the spectacular time-hopping feat of construction or just Lutz's considerable talents as a crafter of characters and situations, it's easy to find something special about this story. And it proves that Lutz's talents extend far beyond her mystery novels: she's a ...more
Jasmine Dale
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
Loved this book! Was teetering between 4 and 5 but ultimately landed on 4. Writing was great characters were great and multi dimensional. The only thing that bothered me was how much it kept going back and forth between different time periods. I don't mind that in general but it happened so often it was difficult to keep track.
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Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the six books in the Spellman series, How to Start a Fire, Heads you Lose (with David Hayward), and the children's book, How to Negotiate Everything (illustrated by Jaime Temairik). Her latest book, The Passenger, a psychological thriller, will be published March 2016 by Simon and Schuster. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for ...more

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