Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy PaperGenre: YA Contemporary
Published: January 8, 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Length: 320 pages
Source: Knopf Books for Young Readers (ARC)
Amazon | Goodreads

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.


Don’t miss out on this book. It was brilliantly written and the pace was smooth. It has two alternating viewpoints: Tim, a 17 year old who has a low self esteem and is usually quiet,  and Duncan, a current high school senior who finds out everything in the past school year, and what happened to Tim. That’s one of the things I like about this book, was that it had male protagonists and how it switched from first (Tim) to third (Duncan) person point of view was perfect! It was not confusing or awkwardly written.

Tim and Duncan aren’t related to start off. Their age difference is a year, and the story begins during Duncan’s first day of being a senior in high school which is the present time of the story while Tim had already graduated high school. The Irving School is a boarding school, and as part of the school’s tradition, the previous seniors leaves a present for the next seniors who’s going to stay in their room. Duncan finds out that the former student who stayed in the room he’s going to stay in was Tim, and he was left with tapes as a present which was not the most exciting gift for him. Turns out those tapes uncovers what really happened during the night of the “Game”, another senior privilege which the seniors could plan an event and select 10 juniors to pass on the tradition. What Tim reveals in those tapes is a secret that he’d been hiding ever since the incident happened, and also the story behind why Duncan felt responsible for what happened. Duncan not only figures out the truth, but it also helps him with his Tragedy Paper, a thesis only for seniors assigned by their English professor.

The characters are all amazing; each has a role that fits to the whole story. From the moment you read the first page, you’ll be left wondering “what IS this Tragedy Paper thing?” “What’s so special about Tim except the fact that he was born white as snow?” “Who is this Vanessa girl?” “What are those tapes Tim left Duncan?” There’s mystery, comedy, romance, and action that will leave you curious and hooked on. There’s just that element that not all books have that this book, The Tragedy Paper has. Just like Duncan, it’ll make you wonder how Vanessa and Tim met, what Tim’s life was like, etc.

It’s not just a story to entertain you. As a reader, this whole book will give you something to think about.  After reading this novel, I remember I reflected and really thought of the whole Tragedy Paper itself, like thinking outside the box. You’ll see. I highly recommend this book and two thumbs up to the author!

6 Responses to “Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan”

  1. 1 Elizabeth LaBan November 29, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read THE TRAGEDY PAPER – and for writing such a thoughtful review!

  2. 3 Refuting the Intolerably Stupid November 29, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Sounds extremely gripping. I love the idea of it taking place in two different times. Definitely adding this to my list. Thanks!

  3. 4 Chapter by Chapter December 1, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    I got a copy of this last week via NetGalley and am really curious to start it! From checking out your review, I think that it is one that I’m going to have to bump up on my TBR list. It was great to read your thoughts on this and it has made me even more exited to read it!

  4. 6 lfountain1 December 12, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Thank you for such an insightful review! This sounds like a brilliant read & one that i have to look out for.

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