About the book
The Tragedy Paper is a stand-alone contemporary young adult novel by Elizabeth LaBan. The book was published by Doubleday Childrens on 10th January and it is 320 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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.
What I thought
I have to say that it was the cover that first attracted me to this book. It is absolutely stunning and although I got sent this for review, I would have immediately picked this up had I seen it in a bookshop.
The Tragedy Paper tells the story of Duncan, a senior at a boarding school in New York. As he is just moving up into senior year, he gets to move dorms and finally have a room of his own. However, these rooms are left to the students by the student staying there the previous year. In this case, Tim. Not only do the seniors get a room of their own but they’re also left with a ‘treasure’. While some students get extravagant gifts of tickets or alcohol, Tim leaves Duncan a pile of CDs. I really liked getting to know Duncan to begin with, although this book isn’t really about him. To begin with Duncan thinks he’s got a bad deal in comparison to other students but in reality, Tim has left him something very important.
I really loved the idea of tradition in The Tragedy Paper. The Irving School has many traditions, the whole room situation only being one of them. Unlike some books with a boarding school setting, this one has a real sense of family and being welcomed by everyone. There is very little bullying going on and it while not everyone is the best of friends, they do all seem to get along ok. Another tradition here is The Tragedy Paper itself, which is a senior project set each year. This is a major theme of the book of course, due to the title of it, but it also weaves in with Tim telling Duncan his own story, which was a great way of intertwining the two.
Speaking of Tim, he narrates the majority of the book through his CDs left to Duncan. I thought that this was a really clever way of his story being told and for him to get to tell it in his own way, without anything being left out. Tim is different than all of the other kids at the school due to the fact that he is albino. However, no one really treats him any differently which was a nice thing to see. Still, he has always felt like quite the outside but his meeting with Vanessa in an airport changes everything. She doesn’t treat him like he is different and they immediately hit it off. I really liked getting to know both Tim and Vanessa and to see what they meant to each other. Their relationship is not the same as most in the terms of a romance but it was still a lovely friendship to read about.
The Tragedy Paper is a beautifully written book and one which I enjoyed very much. However, I did feel a little disappointed with the ending as it didn’t really go how I thought it was going to and I was a felt a bit let down by it. Even with the ending, this book had me hooked from page one!