March 2, 2013

Review of The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan



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 .

add to goodreadsThe Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan
Publication Date:  January 8, 2013
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers

Available for Purchase:
Chapter-Indigo | amazon | B&N | TBD | indiebound

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** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

MaryAnn NewThe Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan is one of those book that readers everywhere need to read and experience.  A story within a story that comes full circle in the end, and I loved every minute of it.

I loved the unique way in which this story was told.   It’s told in the point of view of two characters, Duncan, student starting his senior year at Irving School, and Tim – a senior from the year before.  Where Duncan’s story is told in the present day, Tim’s story is told in a different way…via CD’s left in Duncan’s room.

As per tradition at Irving School, the seniors of the previous year leave a “treasure” in the room of the new senior who now lives in.  The treasure can be anything from a bottle of booze, a live animal, and in Duncan’s case…CD’s.  And it’s the contents of what’s on the CD’s left by Tim for Duncan that the story and lives of Duncan and Tim intertwine.  A tragedy that has been haunting Duncan’s mind and soul since last year, and a confession of sorts that gives Duncan what he needs the most…the truth.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I decided to start reading The Tragedy Paper.  I knew from the synopsis that it was going to be a story that would be unlike anything I’d read before, but it was also something more!  There were times where the story of Tim broke my heart and had me aching to reach through the pages and take him in my arms and comfort him.

Tim was born as an Albino.  As such, he has gone through his life with great difficulty.  Not only does he have to go through his life knowing that he’s different, but it’s the reactions of those around him that affect him the most.  He has created his own coping mechanisms to assist him in making the reactions of people towards his appearance less harsh for himself.  But when he meets Vanessa, a fellow senior, at the airport on route to Irving School, it’s her carefree, kind and non-judgmental ways that has Tim falling for her hard.

But isn’t there always some sort of road block that hinders most from getting what they want most?  In Tim’s case, it’s Vanessa’s boyfriend, Patrick.  I personally couldn’t stand this dude.  His flip flop attitude which I completely saw through.  And what annoyed me was how Vanessa couldn’t grow some, and just dump his sorry ass.  Especially after she notices his definite change in attitude after the death of his mother.  I understand the memories of how sweet he was before the death, but if the changes in his attitude are so apparent, and in your heart you know you don’t want to be with him any longer, why suffer through it?  For the sake of appearances?  Because you feel sorry that his mother died?  In the end, you’re only making it harder on yourself…And are quite possibly passing up the opportunity in having something real and concrete with someone else.

So the event that connects both Tim and Duncan is a yearly senior “game”.  This is where the senior class plans a game or event behind the teachers’ backs.  And the senior game for Tim’s year ends up becoming an outing instead.  And although everything appears to go off without a hitch, it’s the tragic even that transpires during this outing that is being built up in The Tragedy Paper.  I personally thought it was going to be something … more!  I mean, don’t get me wrong, the events that transpired during that horrible event is pretty horrifying and I can’t even imagine what these characters are going through, but if I’m going to be perfectly honest … the building up found right from the beginning… the build up that had me glued to the pages from the get go … kind of deflated for me … But that’s not to say that the story still wasn’t epic, because it truly is!

The writing style of author, Elizabeth LaBan, is one that I found very addicting.  I loved the flip flopping between the present and the past.  I loved how the thoughts and conclusions of Tim’s reflected on Duncan’s life and relationships.  I loved how the story revolved around the traditions of the school, and I loved how in the end, it all came full circle.

About the Author:

ELIZABETH LABAN worked at NBC News, taught at a community college, and has written for several magazines and newspapers. The Tragedy Paper is her first young adult novel. She lives in Philadelphia with her family.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. Bree

    I’m listening to the audio version of this right now, it’s SO good!

  2. Wonderful review. I have seen this, but never really paid attention to it. After your review, I am going to have to give this one a try.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  3. Candace

    I got this at ALA when looking for specific recs from a publicist. She really talked it up and got me excited. But I hadn’t heard anything about it on the blogosphere. So your review has me very happy. I’m going to read it soon!

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