- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Format: Hardback | 320 pages
- Dimensions: 145mm x 208mm x 33mm | 431g
- Publication date: 15 January 2013
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0375870407
- ISBN 13: 9780375870408
- Sales rank: 249,214
Perfect for fans of "Thirteen Reasons Why" and "Looking for Alaska," Jennifer Weiner, #1 "New York Times "bestselling author, calls Elizabeth LaBan's""The Tragedy Paper"""a beguiling and beautifully written tale of first love and heartbreak." It follows the story of 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 secrets.
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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.
By Cherie 08 Jan 2013
First of all, I have to comment on how "clean" this book is. There's no swearing, no sex, no law breaking. Well, no major law breaking, anyway. It was refreshing to read a book that is free from all of that but still feels authentic and honest. I think too many times authors try to write teens with lots of bad language and actions because they are trying to seem more relevant to their audience. In The Tragedy Paper, the story will feel relevant because of great characters, great plot, and great writing.
The book is written very well. The way the book was written - in scenes narrated and recorded by a main character - really reminded me of a movie. We open on one of the main characters, Duncan, arriving at The Irving School and looking to find which room he has been assigned to. In his room he finds a "treasure" left by the previous occupant. In this case, CD recordings left by Tim, an albino student involved in some kind of an incident last year. The book goes back and forth between Duncan in present day and Tim last year.
The pacing is perfect. The book starts of a little slowly with Duncan arriving at school and then Tim meeting Vanessa, giving the feeling of anticipation and a little bit of apprehension. As the plot moves along we become more comfortable - just as Tim does - but at the same time a little more anxious because we know that we're being lead to some kind of big event or revelation by Duncan's reactions.
I really loved the characters. I loved that they were "real" in that they were all flawed in some way. Tim views his entire life and everything he does through the slant of his albinism and has little confidence in himself. Vanessa is the popular pretty girl who has the popular boyfriend but she's the first person to treat Tim like a real person instead of some kind of a freak. Despite her attraction to him she strings him along, too afraid to give up her social status by being with Tim. Duncan is really innocent in everything that happens but has crippling guilt. Each character has good and bad traits.
I loved the author's description's of Tim's feelings about Vanessa. She really captures those first feelings of infatuation where every glance and touch have meaning.
...she would make eye contact, or touch my arm gently. It was so subtle, and she was so good at it, like a fairy swooping in or a raindrop finding its way into a small space.... I never knew when it would be, but I started to crave it.
I also loved the boarding school setting and all of the details that helped to round it out: the local ingredients used in the cafeteria, the treasure left by the residents of the rooms for next year's seniors to find, the hiding place in Duncan's room, the senior Game, Donut Day and so many other things. They all really made the setting real - and made me wish I went to that boarding school.
I read this quickly - in about a day - because I was excited to see what was going to happen and how things would end up. However, I think this book would be a great re-read as there are a lot of scenes and ideas here that I would love to explore in more detail. There are a lot of layers to this book. Duncan's life, Tim's life, the relationship between Tim and Vanessa and her manipulative behavior, the idea of a tragedy paper and how the book itself can be seen as it's own tragedy paper. This book can be read as just a story about a bunch of kids at a boarding school - or it can go much deeper.
My favorite read of 2013 - so far. I recommend it.
Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.
Entertainment Weekly, January 4, 2013: "LaBan's debut -- reminiscent of Jay Asher's "Thirteen Reasons Why" -- compassionately illustrates the tragedy of withholding love and friendship, or worse, never having the courage to seek them out." Starred Review, Booklist, November 15, 2012: "Debut novelist LaBan takes us into the private school culture as well as the heads of two charming yet very different teenage boys and their parallel love stories... Nonexistent parents, well-intentioned, likeable faculty on the periphery, elaborate dorm rooms with overstuffed closets, even the romantic, snow-covered campus all contribute to a setting that adds to the story's heft and intrigue." The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 8, 2013: "This novel is relatable and unusually gripping, even for an older reader - full of slings and arrows and outrageous fortune...Romantic love, hard work, loyalty, friendship, suffering: Like the great tragedies that inspired the novel, it's all here. LaBan's take on adolescent life is rendered in the sweet, intelligent tradition of John Irving, but without any of the prep-school genre's self-satisfaction." HelloGiggles.com ""The Tragedy Paper" is about how hard it can be not to belong, and how far we'll go just to feel like we do. It's an absolutely fantastic book." School Library Journal, February 2013: "Strong plotting and characterization make Tim and Vanessa come to life for readers as much as for Duncan, whose understanding of tragedy becomes almost overwhelmingly acute." Booklist, February 2013: "An engaging tale told by a boy rendered an outsider by his appearance, full of passion and almost unrequited love, signifying the heartbreaks and melodramas of high school." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2013: "An engaging tale told by a boy rendered an outsider by his appearance, full of passion and almost unrequited love, signifying the heartbreaks and melodramas of high school."