The Tragedy Paper

( 51 )

Overview

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...

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The Tragedy Paper

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Overview

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.

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  • The Tragedy Paper
    The Tragedy Paper  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent: Uwe Stender, TriadaUS Literary Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Entertainment Weekly, January 4, 2013:
"LaBan's debut — reminiscent of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why — compassionately illustrates the tragedy of withholding love and friendship, or worse, never having the courage to seek them out."

Starred Review, Booklist, November 15, 2012:
“Debut novelist LaBan takes us into the private school culture as well as the heads of two charming yet very different teenage boys and their parallel love stories… Nonexistent parents, well-intentioned, likeable faculty on the periphery, elaborate dorm rooms with overstuffed closets, even the romantic, snow-covered campus all contribute to a setting that adds to the story’s heft and intrigue.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 8, 2013:
"This novel is relatable and unusually gripping, even for an older reader - full of slings and arrows and outrageous fortune...Romantic love, hard work, loyalty, friendship, suffering: Like the great tragedies that inspired the novel, it's all here. LaBan's take on adolescent life is rendered in the sweet, intelligent tradition of John Irving, but without any of the prep-school genre's self-satisfaction."

HelloGiggles.com
"The Tragedy Paper is about how hard it can be not to belong, and how far we’ll go just to feel like we do. It’s an absolutely fantastic book."

School Library Journal, February 2013:
"Strong plotting and characterization make Tim and Vanessa come to life for readers as much as for Duncan, whose understanding of tragedy becomes almost overwhelmingly acute."

Booklist, February 2013:
"An engaging tale told by a boy rendered an outsider by his appearance, full of passion and almost unrequited love, signifying the heartbreaks and melodramas of high school."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2013:
"An engaging tale told by a boy rendered an outsider by his appearance, full of passion and almost unrequited love, signifying the heartbreaks and melodramas of high school."

VOYA - Amanda Fensch
Duncan’s final year at the prestigious Irving School should go according to plan--get good grades, fall in love with his summer crush, and struggle through the dreaded Tragedy Paper assigned to every senior by Mr. Simon. Duncan’s year starts off sideways, though, when he is assigned the dreaded corner room and, worst of all, discovers a set of recordings left by the room’s previous inhabitant, Tim Macbeth. Tim’s story, in which Duncan played a small but pivotal role, is narrated by the tragic hero himself and forces Duncan to confront his own issues and construct the finest Tragedy Paper Irving School has ever seen. This coming-of-age story is unique in its telling and because of its lack of hurriedness. Slower books may not appeal to readers who are used to the overabundance of action thrillers in the young adult genre, but this is a beautiful and tragic story that should be given its time in the spotlight. Laban’s heroes are meant to be cheered and pitied, and the way their stories are handled is masterful. While the climax may not be as satisfying as the buildup, the individual stories of Duncan and especially Tim are meaty enough to keep readers pushing through to the very end. With plot and character construction similar to those of writers like John Green, and a hearkening to stories like The Dead Poet’s Society, this novel deserves a place on most library shelves. Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
Boarding school students learn the consequences of poor decision-making. Last year at the Irving School—motto: "Enter Here to Be and Find a Friend"—something terrible happened. Readers will have to push through nearly 300 pages, narrated alternately by Tim Macbeth, a recently graduated senior who transferred to Irving for his final semester, and Duncan Meade, the current senior who inherited Tim's dorm room and with it, a stack of CDs containing Tim's reminiscences of that fateful school term, to find out what it was. Tim, a deeply self-conscious albino, spends an idyllic 18 hours stranded in Chicago with lovely fellow senior Vanessa en route to Irving and is totally smitten. Tim's hopes are dashed by Vanessa's commitment to her popularity and her current boyfriend, the loathsome and jealous yet handsome Patrick. Predictably, however, Tim goes along with Vanessa's furtive occasional advances, all the while whipsawing between his conviction that she cares for him and his crippling self-loathing. Duncan, meanwhile, is alternately transfixed and horrified by Tim's story, as he feels partly responsible for the terrible outcome of Tim, Vanessa and Patrick's love triangle and eventually hopes to mine it for his Tragedy Paper, Irving's multidisciplinary approach to a senior thesis. With his overreliance on obvious foreshadowing, debut author LaBan creates a mystery without thrills and parallel romances that lack any frisson. Readers will wonder, what was the point? Completely, sadly skippable. (Fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804121996
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 934,897
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 5.85 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

ELIZABETH LABAN worked at NBC News, taught at a community college, and has written for several magazines and newspapers. The Tragedy Paper is her first young adult novel. She lives in Philadelphia with her family. 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 51 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 51 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book...wow, I hardly know where to begin. First of all, I r

    This book...wow, I hardly know where to begin. First of all, I rarely read books where the narrator is a young man. This isn't by choice - it just seems to happen that way. Being able to get into the minds of two young men, who both suffer the tragedy of a common event, was enlightening.




    Tim, one of the narrators of this story, is an albino who has recently undergone drastic change in his life. Meeting Vanessa and seemingly being included at his new school provides Tim with a feeling he has always longed for...belonging. And isn't this a feeling we all long for in our lives? I believe it's an element of human nature. And I believe that teenagers in particular suffer from this desire to belong, to be included, to fit in. For some, the desire is so strong they will do just about anything. Tim, who's need to fit in was probably much stronger seeing as he'd always been the outsider, did push his limits in order to achieve that goal...he indulged his tragic flaw as it were, to his own detriment.




    Duncan, the second of the two narrators of our story, was witness to Tim's downfall and felt a certain degree of culpability. In fact, he seemed to be unable to move past his guilt. He spent the bulk of his senior year trying to come to terms with his perceived role in Tim's tragedy, trying not to make the same mistakes Tim has related to him, and to correlate Tim's story in a tangible way using his own Tragedy Paper.




    I liked the use of the Tragedy Paper as the backdrop for this novel. Tragedy, both in the literal sense and in the literary sense, are combined to create a profound story. I also appreciated the use of Shakespearean names - Duncan and Tim Macbeth - both from Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's tragedies is telling. Duncan, just like King Duncan, is sensitive and insightful. Tim Macbeth is similar to Macbeth in his inability to truly trust along with his anxiety, both of which he suffers because he can't believe he'd ever be accepted because of being an albino. 




    I did feel a tiny bit of a letdown once all was revealed. It seemed a bit melodramatic that Duncan would have had such a visceral reaction to the incident in light of his actions. However, the story is also very insightful, with Duncan learning much from Tim's revelations. Overall, this was a very engaging read.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2013

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    Great Writing and Pacing

    First of all, I have to comment on how "clean" this book is. There's no swearing, no sex, no law breaking. Well, no major law breaking, anyway. It was refreshing to read a book that is free from all of that but still feels authentic and honest. I think too many times authors try to write teens with lots of bad language and actions because they are trying to seem more relevant to their audience. In The Tragedy Paper, the story will feel relevant because of great characters, great plot, and great writing.

    The book is written very well. The way the book was written - in scenes narrated and recorded by a main character - really reminded me of a movie. We open on one of the main characters, Duncan, arriving at The Irving School and looking to find which room he has been assigned to. In his room he finds a "treasure" left by the previous occupant. In this case, CD recordings left by Tim, an albino student involved in some kind of an incident last year. The book goes back and forth between Duncan in present day and Tim last year.

    The pacing is perfect. The book starts of a little slowly with Duncan arriving at school and then Tim meeting Vanessa, giving the feeling of anticipation and a little bit of apprehension. As the plot moves along we become more comfortable - just as Tim does - but at the same time a little more anxious because we know that we're being lead to some kind of big event or revelation by Duncan's reactions.

    I really loved the characters. I loved that they were "real" in that they were all flawed in some way. Tim views his entire life and everything he does through the slant of his albinism and has little confidence in himself. Vanessa is the popular pretty girl who has the popular boyfriend but she's the first person to treat Tim like a real person instead of some kind of a freak. Despite her attraction to him she strings him along, too afraid to give up her social status by being with Tim. Duncan is really innocent in everything that happens but has crippling guilt. Each character has good and bad traits.

    I loved the author's description's of Tim's feelings about Vanessa. She really captures those first feelings of infatuation where every glance and touch have meaning.

    ...she would make eye contact, or touch my arm gently. It was so subtle, and she was so good at it, like a fairy swooping in or a raindrop finding its way into a small space.... I never knew when it would be, but I started to crave it.

    I also loved the boarding school setting and all of the details that helped to round it out: the local ingredients used in the cafeteria, the treasure left by the residents of the rooms for next year's seniors to find, the hiding place in Duncan's room, the senior Game, Donut Day and so many other things. They all really made the setting real - and made me wish I went to that boarding school.

    I read this quickly - in about a day - because I was excited to see what was going to happen and how things would end up. However, I think this book would be a great re-read as there are a lot of scenes and ideas here that I would love to explore in more detail. There are a lot of layers to this book. Duncan's life, Tim's life, the relationship between Tim and Vanessa and her manipulative behavior, the idea of a tragedy paper and how the book itself can be seen as it's own tragedy paper. This book can be read as just a story about a bunch of kids at a boarding school - or it can go mu

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2013

    This is my first romantic book I have ever read and it SWEET AND

    This is my first romantic book I have ever read and it SWEET AND CUTE! I recommend reading, it really gets net resting as you progress. But I wish there was like series of the Tragedy Papers! The author and the book is awesome! ( I said that to much)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Rating: 3.5 The Low Down: Duncan has returned for his senior

    Rating: 3.5




    The Low Down: Duncan has returned for his senior year at The Irving School. A school with many traditions, one is where the previous year’s seniors “pass” their rooms on to the new seniors. They are left a “treasure” as well, which can be anything from books to liquor to Yankees tickets. Much to his dismay, Duncan gets the room that no one wants - it’s small and has a tiny window. His bequest: a stack of CDs made by the room’s previous occupant, Tim Macbeth. Thinking they contain music, he starts to play the first one. It is Tim telling the story that Duncan doesn’t want to think about; the actual tragedy that took place at the end of the previous year. One that Duncan witnessed.




    Tim transferred to Irving after Christmas break during his senior year. He didn’t have any friends at his previous school, really. Tim’s an albino, and he generally keeps his head down. He finds a place where he feels safe and he “tucks in,” as he says. But when his flight to New York City is cancelled because of snow, and he’s stuck staying overnight, he’s surprised that he agrees to allow a fellow passenger, a girl about his age, to stay in his room at the sold-out hotel. They go outside and build an igloo in the snow and have a snowball fight. They talk. They eat room service. He’s never enjoyed himself more. But when he finds out that this girl, Vanessa, attends Irving and she has a boyfriend there, he decides not to tell her that he’s headed there as well. The next day, as they travel on different flights, he texts his destination to her. She texts back one word: “Good.”




    Best Thang ‘Bout It: A well-crafted story, I liked the Shakespeare references, this boy who knew he would always be judged by his appearance, and  the girl stuck in a relationship. The means of telling of the story was clever, one that allowed both Tim’s and Duncan’s tales to be told simultaneously. The story idea was fresh as well.




    I’m Cranky Because: As present as all the elements were, I never felt that the story jelled for me. It wasn’t from a lack of a foundation that it didn’t crystallize either; there were threads throughout that were subtle yet visible that led to the end and came together nicely. We get to know Tim very well, but not really anyone else with the same amount of depth. I did not feel connected with or moved by most of them. I also thought the climax of the story was rushed which made it rather anti-climactic. There was so much time spent trying to discover what happened, then it finally happened, then book was over.




    Should You?: When all is said and done, It is absolutely worth reading.




    The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan was published on January 8, 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.




    Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
    Ages: 12 and up
    You Might Want to Know: Minor references to underage drinking.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2013

    Interesting p.o.v. Such an amazing and unique book!

    This book made me so mad, but in a good way. I resented the characters' actions, but that made me realize how easily I connected to the story. Looking at the world from an outsider's point of view makes you view life from a new perspective.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Good book!

    I was looking for a book to read and i thought this sounded good. First i got the sample and i was hooked just from that so i bought the book. This is the first book i read by this author and i really liked it. I had a hard time putting it down as i wanted to see what happened. This is the first book in a while that i actually started reading and finished the whole book. This said it was for teens but i am in my late 40's and i really enjoyed reading this and it was a fast read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first few chapters, but then I lost int

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first few chapters, but then I lost interest. I gave it another shot, but it lost much of its appeal for me. I did read through to the end, and that was where I really felt there was a hurried-up ending. Duncan's role in the tragedy was minor. Tim's story interested me the most, and of course Vanessa's role. I had a real connection with them. However, I didn't feel their story had a proper ending. To end the story on Duncan, to me, was a mistake. I was not invested in him. Overall, I give The Tragedy Paper a C+.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Tragedy Paper is the first book I have finished in 2013 and

    The Tragedy Paper is the first book I have finished in 2013 and it's so unbelievably good. When I first heard about it I thought it would be a good read, but I had serious problems putting it down. There were a few work nights where I stayed up until the early hours in the morning because I kept telling myself ten more pages. Tragedy Paper is told from two points of views, Tim and Duncan's.

    Tim doesn't have friends in his current school and he's counting the days until he leaves, when his mom's boyfriend offers him an opportunity to go to a private school he went to. He tells Tim that living at Irving was the best experience of his life and it could be for Tim as well. Being albino has made Tim an expert at not noticing people and ignoring anyone who stares at him. Tim's trip to Irving is completely chaotic, starting when Vanessa, a girl at the airport spills a drink on him right before his flight. As if that wasn't enough his flight is cancelled. Vanessa, making small talk, finds out Tim managed to get the last room available at the airport hotel and she decides rather than spend the night at the gate she's going to share his room with him. The two get to know each other and spending a day snowed in at the airport turns out to be a great thing. Tim finds out that Vanessa is also on her way to Irving, but doesn't tell her he's going to Irving as well because he's afraid of how she would react. It's one thing to be friends with him when no one knows, but he can't deal with her rejection at school, if she shuns him for being albino. The story from Tim's point of view is perfection. He's sweet, love struck and completely fearful of what could be.

    Duncan is returning to Irving as a senior. Irving has a number of traditions, the first is that each student must write a Tragedy Paper and the students work on it all year. The second is that the graduating seniors leave a gift for the new students living in their old room. Duncan gets the room nobody wants, it's where Tim lived. Tim leaves him cds telling him all about his senior year. He promises to be completely honest with Duncan and that it could be the topic for his Tragedy Paper. Duncan starts to listen, but at the same time he is afraid to relive the horrible accident that happened last year.

    The Tragedy Paper is Elizabeth LaBan's debut novel and I can't tell you how much I loved it. You won't believe how wonderful it really is until you read it for yourself. Elizabeth LaBan is going on my buy anything she writes list! If you need more convincing Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Weiner, and Sarah Pekkanen all are talking about it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and nicely paced. I lik

    I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and nicely paced. I liked the two narrator approach. Tim and Duncan were engaging and interesting characters. 
    The boarding school details were spot-on. Nicely done. I look forward to the next book by Elizabeth Laban. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2013

    This book surprised me. I didn¿t really have any expectations f

    This book surprised me.

    I didn’t really have any expectations for it when I picked it up, and you know, sometimes that’s the best way to approach a book. Since I didn’t have crazy high expectations, or really even know what the book was going to be about, I was pleasantly surprised to be immediately drawn into the story, which is a sort of two-prong mystery that unfolds for the audience.

    I say “two-prong” because there are two timelines—one of them is being told to the main character, Duncan, who receives recordings of the story of Tim and Vanessa, two seniors from the previous year, narrated by Tim. What makes this interesting is that Duncan knows how the story ends, but the audience doesn’t. However, what Duncan doesn’t know is that the story Tim is telling will reveal nuances about his current life at Irving, inform his conceptions of the events of the past year, and , ultimately, that what he is listening to will impact his big senior project, the tragedy paper.

    I love how the story unfolds—it’s a slow build that culminates in a story that has both the characters and the audience trying to determine exactly what a tragedy is, and who the tragic characters really are.

    But! It’s not all tragic tragedy in this book—it’s set at a boarding school (and we all know how I can’t resist a good boarding school book) AND the boarding school is located not far from where I live, so there were several references both to the town I currently live in (YONKERS! As Tim points out, “It rhymes with bonkers.” That’s actually part of the reason I moved here. No lie.) and the towns surrounding me, which was a fun perk.

    Overall, this book is an intriguing, mysterious story of loneliness, heartbreak, and how you can learn from others’ mistakes. But more than that, it’s about the stress of being a senior, trying to balance school with fun and not thinking too-too much about the looming future and what college will bring.

    If you’re looking for a melancholy, slow burn of a story with a preppy, boarding school setting (with maps of the school as the endpapers!), then definitely check out The Tragedy Paper.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2014

    AWESOME

    Best book I have ever read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2014

    I love this book

    Couldnt put it down. Really captivated me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    ^^

    Wonderful. This book is amazing. It speaks to the reader and its just wow. Beatiful. Tragic and interesting. I love this book. I would recomend it 100% of the time

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    read this in my book club and it was the best one we read. it wa

    read this in my book club and it was the best one we read. it was the most "normal" book (as in no magic, no vampires or werewolves.)
    i was so in love with the characters and how truly real they were. page by page i saw this book coming to life. i loved how realistic and amazing it was.
    great read and totally worth it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    The sample is terrible dont get it

    The sample is nothing there's no story to read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Interesting story

    The story was interesting and kept me wondering until the end about the conclusion to the events of the story. The book reads really fast and would say it is good book for teens, especially those that like to keep guessing what will happen next.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Laban's debut novel will bowl you over with intrigue and sweet r

    Laban's debut novel will bowl you over with intrigue and sweet romance; not the supernatural, shape-shifting stuff which is seen in YA literature but a shy love that grows as the story develops.  But is love the point of this story?  I think not.  Tragedy, my friends, tragedy--it's the name of the game (and yes, there is a game).  Duncan is a senior at the Irving School; although he is assigned to what may appear as the least desirable dorm room, he finds secrets awaiting him.  The previous year's occupant, Tim, left Duncan a set of CDs on which Tim tells a story of events that happened the previous year.  As the story nears completion, Duncan realizes the part he played in last year's senior game, when a tragedy did take place.




    The story alternates between Tim telling the story of the previous year and Duncan living through his own senior year, when he admits to Daisy and to himself the depth of his feelings for her.  This is a parallel to Tim's senior year story, as he develops feelings for Vanessa.  She is the girlfriend of Patrick, a two-faced popular boy.  Danger and lots of suspense will keep the keeper tied to this story.  Well done!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2013

    I loved it

    The Tragedy Paper was really good. It was full of mystery and romance. It has a double P.O.V, one of which is first person the other of which is third. The characters are very well developed and the scenes are very vivid and easy to imagine.

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  • Posted October 3, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Unbelievably well written  My librarian recommended The Tragedy

    Unbelievably well written 

    My librarian recommended The Tragedy Paper with the words "Just try this" so I did, not seriously at first but when it came to about 30 pages in, I was hooked. I loved Looking for Alaska by John Green and 13 reasons why by Jay Asher and this book melted the two together in a wonderful stew of mystery, thought, and you guessed it Tragedy.
    Even if you only like romantic books, it has some of that and way more. Try it you'll never know where you might end up.
    I bid you to go forth and spread beauty and light.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    Praise for "The Tragedy Paper"

    This book was absoulutely amazing. LaBan did a phenomenal job. By the way this is only praise for the book so its not meant to be helpful its just for any random specimen to see their not the only other person who loved this book ok? Ok.

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