Sunday, 17 March 2013
Review: The Tragedy Paper - Elizabeth LaBan
Pages: 304 pages, hardback
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from 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.
First line: As Duncan walked through the stone archway leading into the senior dorm, he had two things on his mind: what 'treasure' had been left behind for him and his Tragedy Paper.
My review: When a review copy of the The Tragedy Paper arrived for me I had no idea what the book was about. I initially thought it was an adult book, actually, based on the cover and it wasn't until I read the blurb I found myself tempted to read it. I was intrigued by the premise and the mysterious cover and I really did enjoy it. It's very different from your run of the mill YA contemporary and it was a refreshing, well-written change from the norm.
Tim and Vanessa's relationship unfolds throughout The Tragedy Paper and it's interesting that the protagonist of the present day story, Duncan, already knows the outcome of the relationship. What Duncan doesn't know, however, is the truth behind Tim and Vanessa's time together and how it all began, which he does discover at the same time as the readers. There are a few hints during the story about a tragic night that involved Duncan, Tim and Vanessa but it's not until the closing pages of the novel that we discover what really happened and what the true link between Duncan and Tim is.
I did enjoy The Tragedy Paper and I was definitely impressed with the writing but I have to admit that I found myself skipping over the sections that focused on the present day, where Duncan was going about his school year, hanging out with his friends and pursuing his own relationship. Tim and Vanessa's situation was so fascinating and I was so invested in their love story that I just wanted to keep learning more and more about them. I understand why the novel was written the way it was, with the dual narrative, but I definitely did find myself rushing through Duncan's sections so I could get back to Tim and Vanessa.
If you're looking for something a little outside of your comfort zone that has beautiful writing and an intriguing storyline then definitely check out The Tragedy Paper. It's a smart novel that will linger with you long after you've finished reading and I feel like this is one that will grow on me every time I reread it.