Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Tragedy Paper Review

Title:  The Tragedy Paper
Author:  Elizabeth Laban
Published January 8th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

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 is told from alternating viewpoints.  One story is told by Tim Macbeth.  Tim was a student at the Irving School last year.  He transferred there halfway through his senior year, but that alone didn't grant him as much attention as the fact that Tim is an albino.  He has always tried to stay out of the way and not stand out even though his condition makes him do just that. 

On the way to his new school, Tim encounters a girl at the airport.  Vanessa is beautiful and perfect in Tim's eyes.  He knows a girl like that would never want a guy like him, but a chance snowstorm causes a flight delay.  This leads to an overnight adventure where Tim and Vanessa spend time together talking and building an igloo.  Tim cannot believe how wonderful he feels until Vanessa tells him she is going to Irving School.  Tim realizes she will never want to be seen with him, so when they are boarding their flights at the airport Tim becomes abrupt, ending in his mind any connection between them.  Upon arriving at Irving, Tim has confessed to Vanessa via text his attending the same school.  What follows is a school term filled with Tim and Vanessa's growing affection for one another, Vanessa's possessive boyfriend Patrick, an important English paper known as "the Tragedy Paper," and an event that changes everything.

The other side of the story involves current Irving School senior, Duncan Meade.  Duncan was a junior when Tim was a senior.  How their story connects is not revealed until the very end of the story.  However, it is made clear by Duncan from the beginning that his connection with Tim is not one he wants to think about.  So, when Duncan finds out his room once belonged to Tim, he is shaken.  Each senior is to leave a "treasure" for the next person who lives in his/her room.  Tim's treasure to Duncan...a set of CDs that Tim has made telling his story. 

Can Duncan bear to listen to Tim's story in order to uncover the truth behind his and Tim's connection?  Will Tim's story help Duncan with his own Tragedy Paper?  Do Tim and Vanessa end up together?  The Tragedy Paper is a beautifully written story which readers will want to race to the end of in order to discover the answers to these questions.  However, if they are like I was, they will be sad to see the last page turn.

*reviewed by Casie, YA @ Cpl. J. R. Searcy Memorial Library

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