The Tragedy Paper

The Tragedy Paper

by Elizabeth LaBan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307930484
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 02/11/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 424,606
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: HL740L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 Years

About 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.

What People are Saying About This

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."
"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, and I hope you guys will all check it out. Just maybe not when you have to go to work or leave the house."

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."

Customer Reviews

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The Tragedy Paper 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
BookwormBrandee More than 1 year ago
This, 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.
Gabbylight More than 1 year ago
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)
Cariblogs More than 1 year ago
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!
CherieReads More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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+.
Rosie3 More than 1 year ago
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. 
BethanyL More than 1 year ago
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.
InkandPage More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I love it that there is a dual narration. I loved it sooooo much!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully tragic and Tragically Beautiful. It was very John Green-ish yet still a very good story that I won't forget any time soon. 5 stars mostly because I really enjoyed the relationship between Tim and Vanessa; I could almost relate to him, liking someone that much.
GHHPACE8 More than 1 year ago
“The Tragedy Paper”, by Elizabeth Laban, follows the lives of current senior, Duncan, and past seniors, Tim Macbeth and Vanessa. Duncan knew of Tim and Vanessa when he was a junior. Everyone knew of Tim, the albino kid, but nobody appreciated his story. Duncan ended up moving into Tim’s old dorm at Irving High School. Every senior leaves a treasure for the upcoming seniors. Tim leaves Duncan the best treasure of all, the story for his Tragedy Paper. Every senior has to write a Tragedy Paper and it’s looming over all of them. Tim leaves Duncan the story of what actually happened between him and Vanessa, the school’s it-girl. Everyone at Irving knew about Vanessa and Tim but nobody knew their story. I love how Elizabeth Laban developed the relationship between Tim and Vanessa. I also loved how it showed Duncan’s character changing throughout the book. One of the only things I didn’t enjoy about this book was how it ended. I still had questions about some of the characters. I wanted to know about how Vanessa was recovering. I felt like the book needed just some more details. Overall, Elizabeth Laban brought the characters to life. The writing is sophisticated and very enjoyable. You find yourself standing up for the characters or feeling proud when they accomplish something.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Duncan has two things on his mind when he returns to the Irving school for his senior year: what "treasure" has been left by the previous occupant of his new dorm room, and the tragedy paper--the school's version of a senior thesis, brainchild of Mr. Simon, and an all-consuming examination of tragedy in its varied forms. If it weren't for those two things, Duncan is pretty sure he could be happy about the start of his senior year as long as he doesn't get Tim Macbeth's room. It was bad enough being a party to the disaster at last year's Game, Duncan has no desire to relive it by occupying Tim's former room. But of course he gets Tim's room. And instead of an interesting treasure, Tim has left a stack of CDs. On first glance the CDs seem worthless--a waste of time, even, in an already busy year. Except these CDs aren't just music or a last-minute effort as leaving something behind. No. Instead Tim has left behind a chronicle of his own arrival at the school eight months earlier--an instant outsider both at the school and in life because he is an albino--and his beautiful, messy and ultimately disastrous friendship with the popular Vanessa. Chronicling his own downfall and explaining Duncan's actual or perceived role in the final moments, Tim hopes Duncan can appreciate the rarity of this treasure and it's ultimate value not just as an explanation but as the substance of Duncan's own tragedy paper in The Tragedy Paper (2013) by Elizabeth LaBan. The Tragedy Paper is LaBan's first novel. Set at an elite, quirky boarding school in New York, The Tragedy Paper has a certain exotic quality right from the beginning. Early on, Tim wonders if the normal rules have stopped applying to his life--that vague sense of chaos lingers throughout the story as Duncan and Tim approach the explanation of what brought both young men to this moment. The majority of the story is told in Tim's narration, through the CDs. Duncan's own story, as he listens to the tapes, is a very obvious framing device but Duncan is guileless and interesting enough with his own guilt and frustration that it works. Tim is a well-written, likable character even in the midst of his terrible decisions throughout the plot. Sadly, Vanessa (and Duncan's own love interest) are very one-dimensional, especially given comparisons to the more developed characters of Tim and even Duncan. LaBan's writing expertly evokes the beauty and menace of a snowy wilderness. The pacing of the story is also well-done building tension as Duncan works through all of Tim's CDs as well as moving through his own senior year at the Irving school. While not the best story (the ultimate tragedy might even be anti-climactic coming from a narrator whose name is Tim Macbeth) LaBan does create a wonderful setting--so much so, in fact, that at times I wished the book's focus was more on the school and its strange tragedy paper and its entertaining teachers like Mr. Simon. Ultimately, being a book about tragedy, there was no way for The Tragedy Paper to become anything but, well, a tragedy. On the other hand the actual events that culminate in Tim's so-called downfall were so easily avoided that the final outcome felt like a waste. There were so many points where things could have gone differently that it became painfully frustrating to watch Tim wend his way toward failure and heartbreak. Happily readers to get to see Duncan at least reach a better end as his story moves beyond the tragedy. By comparison Tim's story cuts short before any kind of resolution is reached and readers are left to wonder what might be next for him. The Tragedy Paper is beautifully written and completely immersive--it certainly marks LaBan as an author to watch. However the ending ultimately made the book as a whole deeply unsatisfying. Possible Pairings: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, Fracture by Megan Miranda, The Wessex Papers by Daniel Parker
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The cover art is what grabbed me in the first place and then the story line blew me away. You will not be disappointed!
PureJonel More than 1 year ago
This novel was something of an anomaly for me.  LaBan drew me in with her unique and well thought out storyline, but lost me with her characters (more on this in a moment).  Her well-developed yet subtle descriptions allow this world to unfold before you.  The intertwining storylines definitely give you something to think about.  Also, the sense of suspense and mystery really drew me to this story.  It kept drawing me back, needing to know what started it all.  It was like the silence after a snowstorm.   I personally would have enjoyed more characters development in this novel.  LaBan gets off to a good start, but once we know the basics about the characters we find out little else.  This is the type of story that needs well developed 3D characters to carry it forwards.  Without that, the sense of tragedy becomes somewhat light.   As a whole, this novel was enjoyable but I just couldn`t quite connect with the characters.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't too impressed with this book. I dived into the book with extremely high expectations that ended up not being met. I still remember the first time that I read the summary on Goodreads before the book had been published. It sounded amazing, no, it sounded spectacular. Looking back though, I think I fell in love with it because it wasn't about vampires, werewolves, and faeries. I always tend to drift towards books that aren't the current trend. I had my vampire and werewolf fix with Twilight, so at the time I was looking for books that did not even mention those two words.  In the book the current senior class has to write a long thesis paper or they refer to it as The Tragedy Paper. Throughout the year, their teacher Mr. Simon would drop hints about what to include if they wanted extra credit on it. The students truly had free reign with this paper, because the guidelines Mr. Simon did give were quite frank but specific. Reading about the stress and anxiety given by this paper brought back memories of a research paper that I had to complete my eighth grade year. Although, we just had to stress about it for a semester, not a whole school year. I found the two assignments quite similar. I could choose what ever topic I wanted, as long as I followed the few specific guidelines that were given.  My favorite character out of the whole novel is Mr. Simon. He, himself, attended Irving School, and now is the teacher for Senior English. He's one of those teachers who you want to dislike, because he is the giver of a difficult and lengthy assignment. However, he teaches the material in a way that makes you want to pay attention, and do well. He is charismatic, highly intelligent, gentle, and a bachelor who can bake amazing food. Do I need to say more?  I was really hoping that The Tragedy Paper would be a winner for me, but it just didn't capture me enough to lose myself into the world of the characters. The writing was boring, and if it wasn't for my curiosity about what happened the year before I probably would have started reading something else. This is a fine example about how I hate reading books that I and others have created hype around. (That's why I haven't read The Fault in Our Stars yet - too much hype especially now that the movie is out.) 
Grannie-Reader More than 1 year ago
I read this for the first time about a year ago and thought it was wonderful. I recommended it to our book club and we will be reading it this month. For that reason I just reread it and again was touoched by the exceptional writing. The characters are so well defined as well as the settings. Very easy to see both and to especially relate to the feelings of the various characters. I touched and amazed as the story progressed. I think it would be very relatable to teens and even we "older" people who love to read. I think Elizabeth has a very clear understanding of teenagers and young adults and has in this book found a great way of expressing that. I highly recommend this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book I have ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt put it down. Really captivated me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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