Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim's surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.
Jumping between viewpoints of the love-struck Tim and Duncan, a current senior about to uncover the truth of Tim and Vanessa, The Tragedy Paper is a compelling tale of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their love.
“The Tragedy Paper” by Elizabeth Laban is a fun winter read. It’s been a while since I’ve read a dual narrative, and more times than not, books written with a dual narrative tend to be written poorly. That’s just my opinion, but the ones I’ve read have always seemed to fall short of my expectations. With “The Tragedy Paper” though, I don’t see how this book could have been written any other way. The dual narrative consisted of two male students by the name of Tim and Duncan, who both attend Irving School. Irving is a prestigious boarding school for high schoolers. Tim is a year older than Duncan at Irving, and leaves him his ‘treasure.’ At Irving it is tradition to leave a treasure behind, for the next student to stay in your current room. While many students leave alcohol, money, and even animals for the next student to stay in their room, what Tim leaves for Duncan is far more personal, and sets the storyline for the rest of the book.
One of my favorite aspects of this book that I want to mention, is Tim’s albinism. I’m one of those readers that is constantly throwing around the phrase – we need more diverse books – in the hopes that it will convince authors to do just that. And yet, I’ve noticed when many people say, ‘diverse,’ they’re actually referring to race or sexuality. Diversity consist of distinct or unlike qualities and characteristics, and while I agree we need more of that as it pertains to race inclusion and sexual freedom, I also believe we’re excluding other types of diversity. In “The Tragedy Paper,” Elizabeth Laban brings to light the stigma of being albino. This is a type of diversity I’d never thought of before. Tim deals with bullying just like many people of a minority race or alternative sexual identity tend to go through. His appearance makes him a target for teasing at school, and stares when he’s out in public. I loved that Elizabeth Laban touched upon this, even going so far as to include common medical issues many albinos have to face. In the book Tim, like many albinos, suffers from poor eyesight due to lack of pigmentation in the eye.
One thing I didn’t care for, was the beginning. Duncan’s arrival at school is slightly confusing, and while there was some foreshadowing that something big happened or was going to happen, it made the start of this book really hard to get into. Reading Duncan’s thoughts in “The Tragedy Paper,” was confusing for the simple fact that he kept referencing an event that already took place, without giving away what happened. I spent the first 3 or 4 chapters of the book lost, which for me makes it incredibly hard to get into a book.
Despite my complaints I thought that overall, “The Tragedy Paper” was good. I enjoyed the diversity in the book, as well as the love triangle that was taking place between Vanessa, Tim, and Patrick. Other than those two elements though, I wasn’t overly impressed with the book. For me, the ending ruined a lot of the book for me. With this book being a dual narrative, I felt like the ending should have done a better job of wrapping up what happened to both Duncan AND Tim. I really tried not to give this a low rating because I thought it was decent and I enjoyed reading it, but since both the ending AND the beginning weren’t that great, I decided to give “The Tragedy Paper” a 3.5.
Has anyone else read this book? Did you feel the same way about the ending or am I just being dramatic? Thoughts?
Reviewed by Emily!
My name’s Emily and I’m a 21 year old college student. I’m studying business and eEnglish with the hopes of getting into editing and publishing when I graduate. I live in Wisconsin and when I’m not busy cramming for exams or working, I’m reading books at an alarming rate, or writing. I also enjoy photography and camping with my family. I love reading all types of books, but my favorite is fantasy! I co-blog over at Wholly Books.
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