Title: The Tragedy Paper
Author: Elizabeth Laban
Genre: YA Fiction
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for free
Synopsis 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.
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.