Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

At the Irving School (a boarding school in New York) it is tradition that the parting seniors leave a treasure behind for the next person to inherit their room.  Duncan arrives on his first day of his senior year concerned with two things, what his treasure will be, and what is he going to do about the Tragedy Paper that each senior must write. Duncan inherits Tim Macbeth's room, and the treasure left behind will influence Duncan's paper in ways he never thought.

It's hard and also simple to describe what this book is really about.  It's a boarding school/mystery/coming of age type novel, but it's in many ways more complex than that.  The story is pretty straight forward, even though the description on Amazon focuses on Tim's story (which we learn about while Duncan listens through the Cd's Tim has left him), it isn't just about Tim.  It's about Duncan, and also how Duncan and Tim's interactions influence them both.

There is a mystery with this book.  We learn early on that Tim's Cd's will help Duncan out with his Tragedy Paper, but we don't know until the end exactly what the tragedy is.  Tim himself is a tragic character, an albino who by chance shares a flight with a fellow classmate, whom he promptly develops a crush on, only to find out she is currently dating the most popular buy in school even though she also seems to be into Tim.  Tim's voice is distinct, and not as self pitying as he could come across.  Some of the relationships in the book are a little superficial (especially Duncan's relationship with his girlfriend Daisy), but the characters are relatable.  After while, I had a hard time putting this book down, and I could not wait to get to the end to find out what happened.

This review is based on an e-ARC I obtained through Netgalley.  I earned no awesome free swag for reviewing this book.

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