Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Tim Macbeth is a 17-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” Tim does not expect to find a friend; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. 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, and she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa enter into a clandestine relationship, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

The story unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the tragic, love-struck figure, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history.

My Review:

What constitutes a tragedy? This is a question that Mr. Simon asks his senior class every year, and causes them to think about the biggest project they will have to do for school 'The Tragedy Paper'. In this story, the senior students must write a 20 page paper about tragedy using an event in their lives and connecting it with literature. This paper is a huge part of the story, because you see how this story connects with the paper, and really makes a difference on the lives of Irving's students.

I was interested to see how Laban would tell this story in two different points of view, because I wasn't sure what Duncan would have to do with the story of Vanessa and Tim. As the story continued, I saw that Tim and Vanessa's story affected Duncan in a very serious way, and it changes his senior year as he realizes he needs to change things so as not to miss an opportunity. I enjoy that throughout we are listening to the story as Duncan hears it, readers slowly learn everything that happened and what led up to this mysterious event that is continually talked about.

I could really feel for Duncan, and was so immersed in the story that I didn't even realize how much time had passed while reading it (just like Duncan felt listening to the story). For me I felt that Duncan's story got in the way, and though his story wasn't as prevalent, I felt that there were quite a few times where we were following Duncan and I just wanted to get back to Tim and what happened next with him and Vanessa. Many of the places that we were cut off from Tim's story leave readers on a cliffhanger to make sure you will come back.

What you learn from this book is beautiful and really applies in the real world. Don't life pass you by, no matter what. Tim was happy to sit in his corner and be unnoticed (being an albino made that difficult for him) until Vanessa came along and changed his life. This book was hard to put down and really made me think about missed opportunities myself, I don't want anything to pass me by. I suggest giving this book a try, the characters all feel so real and you become immersed in the story.


  1. Fantastic review! I really enjoyed this book as well and loved Vanessa and Tim's story. I wasn't a big fan of Duncan and couldn't wait to get back to V and T's story as well. I thought this was a really unique read and it reminded me of Dead Poet's Society. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I hadn't heard of this book before, but it sounds really cool! Kind of sounds like it has a Dead Poets Society feel to it. Great review! I've added it to my TBR list!



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