Book Review: ‘The Tragedy Paper’ by Elizabeth LaBan

Book Cover The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LabanRating: 3.5

The Low Down: Duncan has returned for his senior year at The Irving School. A school with many traditions, one is where the previous year’s seniors “pass” their rooms on to the new seniors. They are left a “treasure” as well, which can be anything from books to liquor to Yankees tickets. Much to his dismay, Duncan gets the room that no one wants – it’s small and has a tiny window. His bequest: a stack of CDs made by the room’s previous occupant, Tim Macbeth. Thinking they contain music, he starts to play the first one. It is Tim telling the story that Duncan doesn’t want to think about; the actual tragedy that took place at the end of the previous year. One that Duncan witnessed.

Tim transferred to Irving after Christmas break during his senior year. He didn’t have any friends at his previous school, really. Tim’s an albino, and he generally keeps his head down. He finds a place where he feels safe and he “tucks in,” as he says. But when his flight to New York City is cancelled because of snow, and he’s stuck staying overnight, he’s surprised that he agrees to allow a fellow passenger, a girl about his age, to stay in his room at the sold-out hotel. They go outside and build an igloo in the snow and have a snowball fight. They talk. They eat room service. He’s never enjoyed himself more. But when he finds out that this girl, Vanessa, attends Irving and she has a boyfriend there, he decides not to tell her that he’s headed there as well. The next day, as they travel on different flights, he texts his destination to her. She texts back one word: “Good.”

Best Thang ‘Bout It: A well-crafted story, I liked the Shakespeare references, this boy who knew he would always be judged by his appearance, and  the girl stuck in a relationship. The means of telling of the story was clever, one that allowed both Tim’s and Duncan’s tales to be told simultaneously. The story idea was fresh as well.

I’m Cranky Because: As present as all the elements were, I never felt that the story jelled for me. It wasn’t from a lack of a foundation that it didn’t crystallize either; there were threads throughout that were subtle yet visible that led to the end and came together nicely. We get to know Tim very well, but not really anyone else with the same amount of depth. I did not feel connected with or moved by most of them. I also thought the climax of the story was rushed which made it rather anti-climactic. There was so much time spent trying to discover what happened, then it finally happened, then book was over.

Should You?: When all is said and done, It is absolutely worth reading.

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan was published on January 8, 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 12 and up
You Might Want to Know: Minor references to underage drinking.

Other Reviews:
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Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf
One A Day Y.A.
 
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