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.
The legend of a curse "that every year a senior would leave for some unforeseen reason" provides an eerie backdrop to this story set at Irving, a prestigious, tradition-laden boarding school. Foreshadowing and dramatic tension build through alternating, parallel narratives of two seniors in consecutive years, as details of a tragedy involving both boys gradually unfold. Duncan, occupying a room previously inhabited by recent graduate Tim, inherits Tim's CD recordings describing "the words, the music, my downfall, as well as your perceived or actual role in it." Tim's first-person voice is a compelling combination of compassion and analysis, revealing his lifelong challenge of albinism, the unexpected romantic triangle he enters into, and choices that set in motion unfortunate events. Narrative transitions to Duncan's third-person viewpoint are occasionally jarring; like Duncan, readers will likely find Tim's senior year trials more interesting. As the relationship between the two characters becomes clearer, however, Duncan's tale conveys greater dramatic resonance. A playful element infuses the story as tragic themes described in English class play out in the characters' dramas, adding texture to this strong debut. Ages 12 up.
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I haven't been lost in a book since I read The Hunger Games. This author knows how to create a world and you really escape into it. Really, really enjoyed reading it.