The Tragedy Paper: A Book Review

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I’ve recently been reading books with young male protagonists to help put me in the mindset for my WIP. Not that I don’t already have plenty of opportunity to study my own teenage son. 😉

I loved John Green’s Looking for Alaska, but what’s not to love. He’s a master storyteller. If you haven’t already read The Fault in Our Stars, click on this link and buy it now. I promise, it’s that good.

I also read a debut novel, released in January of this year, by Elizabeth LaBan, The Tragedy Paper, with two young male protagonists in parallel plots.

The Amazon Description of The Tragedy Paper:

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.”  

How could you not find a seventeen-year-old albino boy fascinating? Even better that LaBan describes in-depth the different facets of the genetic disorder—the problems albinos face with an absence of pigment in their eyes and skin. The author does a great job of creating a personality appropriate for someone who faces such challenges.

The two characters are caught up in an annual event, a game, hosted every year by the senior class at Irving School. Only a few juniors are invited, and Duncan is one of them. Tragedy strikes during the event and lives are changed. The following year, Tim leaves a set of CDs for Duncan, hidden behind a panel in the closet of the tiny dorm room Duncan has “inherited” from Tim. The CDs are a recording of Tim’s retelling of the months leading up to the event. Sadly, at least for me, after the long buildup to the night of the tragedy, the climax was somewhat of a letdown. Spoiler Alert: And the situation surrounding Tim’s blindness seemed unrealistic to me.

LaBan does many things well. The novel is not only beautifully written, it’s clean, void of unnecessary cuss words and graphic sex scenes. The Tragedy Paper is appropriate for teenagers twelve and up. It’s a novel I would recommend to my seventeen-year old son. All said, I would give this novel four stars.

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