Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Tragedy Paper, by Elizabeth LaBan

It is Duncan's senior year at the Irving Academy, which means he will face the dreaded Tragedy Paper, the school equivalent of a senior thesis.  When Duncan moves into his room on the first day, he finds something interesting left behind by Tim, the albino student who lived in that room the year before.  Duncan soon becomes obsessed with the story of Tim's downfall the previous year, and learns for himself what tragedy really is.

This book had a very interesting concept.  You have one setting hosting two parallel stories, with two sets of characters.  You have Duncan's present day story, his relationships and struggles during his own senior year.  Then you have Tim's story from the prior year, which is presented around the context of Duncan's story.  At the end of the book, the two storylines merge into one.  I liked the two different points of view, I thought they played off of each other well. 

I was really fascinated by Tim's character.  Albinism is a topic on which I know very little, so I actually learned a bit by reading a book where a main character is an albino.  Tim's albinism figures heavily into the story, but it is clear that he is more than just his albinism.  I thought both Tim and Duncan were very well developed as characters, but Tim was the stronger of the two for me.  I found the female characters in the book a tiny bit flat, and never really cared about their parts of the story.  There was a certain amount of literary symbolism in the book, and more than a slight nod towards Shakespeare.  However, one did not get bogged down by the symbolism, and I liked that subtlety.   

I think this is a great book for young adult readers, and would make for an interesting lesson plan if paired with Macbeth.  The book has enough depth to appeal to adult readers as well.  

I received a review copy courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.   


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