March 14, 2013

Latest Read: The Tragedy Paper

Here are the basics ...
The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban
Publication date: Jan. 8, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Borrowed from library

Summary: Tim Macbeth is a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School who just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, he finds himself falling for 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. 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 about the lengths people will go to keep their secrets. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: I rarely read books told from a guy's point-of-view, so The Tragedy Paper which alternates between two guys - Tim and Duncan - was something new and refreshing for me. Duncan is starting his senior year of high school and while he hints that his previous year ended on a bad note, we don't find out why until much later. We just know he's looking for a fresh start and that's all he can think of as he heads to his new dorm room. The tradition (one of many) at the Irving School is that the senior who previously lived in your room will know who is taking over it and leave said person a surprise. It could be anything. Books, tickets to a show, DVDs. As Duncan approaches his room, he realizes he got the worst room (the corner one) and he remembers who lived there before. It was Tim's, the albino student who is part of the past Duncan is trying to forget. And Tim really won't let him forget it because his "surprise" is a stack of CDs in which Tim tells Duncan his story -- the truth of what happened last year. Almost against his will, Duncan decides to give it a listen and before he realizes it, he can't seem to pull himself away. Which pretty much sums up how I reacted to this story. Once I started, I found it incredibly difficult to stop.

Both Tim and Duncan's voices were so distinct and clear and I felt equally invested in each of their stories. I like how the author intertwined not only their perspectives, but also the past with the present, and the happiness they each found with the tragedy they encountered. It was just all weaved together so beautifully. The title of this book comes from a paper each senior is required to write - the "tragedy paper" aka their version of a senior thesis. Tim thinks that by telling Duncan his story, not only will he be giving Duncan the truth, but also something to write about. But he ends up giving him much more than that. Tim gives Duncan the courage to learn from his mistakes and take chances. To do things like go for the girl he wants, instead of hanging back scared. Through Tim's tapes, we learn he had a "forbidden" relationship with Vanessa Sheller who happened to be dating Patrick, the most popular guy in school and all-around jerk. But honestly, I wasn't a big fan of Vanessa's either. Although I think in the end, they all encountered a personal tragedy. So much could've been different if only everyone had been honest or more brave about what they wanted in life. I just loved this exploration of the mistakes people make, the desire to fit in, wanting to find love and how everything can change in an instant.

(No) reservations: I do have a few questions about some of the characters, namely Vanessa and what was going through her head. But I don't think not knowing deters from the impact of the story at all. In some ways, I think we're meant to wonder.

Do I recommend?: Yes! It's an intense story that's so compelling and even a little mysterious, because you want to know what exactly happened to these guys. Really enjoyed this one.

Happy reading!

4 comments:

  1. This one sounds incredibly compelling! I've been intrigued about it since I first heard of it, but you've convinced me that I should give it a try. I'm interested in seeing how things play out for both Tim and Duncan.

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  2. The concept for this story is insanely unique and interesting. Though it initially sounds a bit similar to other YA novels, it still seems like a fascinating concept. And I love that it's told in a male perspective; I'm totally pro-girl, but sometimes it's nice to switch things up.

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  3. I generally don't read books from guys' perspectives either, but I have been interested in this one. I've seen some mixed reviews, but I know I'll read it anyways. I think the concept sounds very interesting and I love stories that are intense. Tim and Duncan sound like characters I'd like even though they're out of my norm.

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  4. I've never heard of this one before, but it sounds really good. It reminds me of Thirteen Reasons Why, but better. I will definitely give it a shot, because your review makes me want to read it asap. Awesome review, I am glad you this and recommend it so much.

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