by Elizabeth Laban
ISBN-13: 978-0375870408
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Amazon, B&NGoodreads

Rating: ♥♥♥.5

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 Thoughts:

THE TRAGEDY PAPER by Elizabeth Laban is a good debut novel depicting a tale of heartbreak, longing and unfortunate circumstances. Told from two view points this story delves into the lives of Tim and Duncan, both students and both dreading the Tragedy paper that is catapulted their Irving school to legendary status. Yet, it is because of this paper that Tim's tragic story comes to light and Duncan must figure out what to do with it.

This story starts off well enough with Duncan inheriting a confession of storts from his room's previous tenant Tim. Duncan and Tim have nothing in common except the one night when their lives intersect thus forever changing them. At first Duncan is unsure of what he has inherited but as he begins to read more of Tim's story he becomes a bit obsessed and realizes that if he wants more in his life he has to be the instrument for that change and thus he begins on a journey that will bring forth good and bad events.  While you witness Duncan's metamorphosis you also witness the Tim's decline, his ultimate weakness and the night when his love for an all elusive girl goes horribly wrong. As both stories intertwine and reach their inevitable conclusion you are wound up so tight that you forget to breathe.

THE TRAGEDY PAPER does conclude in an open ended manner thus giving me the opportunity of hope. It is through this sliver of a portal that I imagine a resolution, a confession and change and although I suspect that will not happen it is always nice to know that it just might....


  1. I really enjoyed reading THE TRAGEDY PAPER. Irving School seems like a very cool place (with some really cool teachers and a bunch of unique and fun traditions that would make being a student there very interesting). Tim's story, especially, is beautifully told. I would recommend this to anyone interested in coming-of-age stories, and to anyone who is currently (or ever was!) a high school student. It's a good novel. I will not soon forget it.

    Irene (San Antonio Local SEO)

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