The Tragedy Paper - YA Review by AJ G

Reader: AJ G.
Age: 17
Title: The Tragedy Paper
Author: Elizabeth Laban
Publisher: Arthur A. Knopf
Pub Date: 01/08/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I'm not generally a huge fan of switching points of view, but I thought it was really well done in this book. It wasn't the formulaic switching every two chapters and seeing everything twice. It was one person's story going on in another person's story. Like a play within a play (couldn't resist the Shakespeare reference, they're just so fitting and prevalent). I also really liked the character voice in both the protagonists. They just felt authentic to me. The dialogue was a little stilted at times, but it was nothing I couldn't look past. The story was incredibly compelling. You really wanted to find out what Tim was building to, but at the same time you could feel Duncan's trepidation about getting there. I thought the character development was well paced, not rushed or overdone. All in all it was a compelling plot with two great narrators.
Memorable or Forgettable: This was without a doubt a romance novel. And yet it didn't make me want to hurl. You may be asking yourself "how is this possible?" Well for one thing, Tim couldn't be with the girl he loved, unlike the usual boy meets girl, they start dating, happy ever after. Instead it was boy meets girl under unusual circumstances, she has a boyfriend who's a jerk, boy has to squirm around jerk boyfriend. This unusual structure made for a nice change of pace and also lends the reader's sympathy to Tim, and then to Duncan as he relives Tim's memories. It was this that let me get brought in by the romance aspect of the book.
Cover: I think the cover is absolutely beautiful. It's striking, it relates to the story without giving too much away, and it's noticeable from the shelf. This is one of the few times I actually like the cover.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Duncan Meade is a senior at the Irving School. He's haunted by the memory of Tim Macbeth, a senior last year. On top of the chilling memories of what happened last year, Duncan is faced with the task of writing the tragedy paper, the biggest senior English project. But Tim is there to help him, through his own tragedy.

tags:  coming of age / romance / high school / albinism / BFYA nominee / ya lit

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