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The Tragedy Paper
BIBLIO:2013, Random House, Ages 12 to 18, $9.99.
FORMAT: Young Adult
School is back in session for Duncan Meade, a senior at Irving School. As a returning senior it is expected and tradition for seniors to complete what is called a “tragedy paper.” This is a dread for Duncan and the paper will be a big part of of his grade. The twist to the tradition is that a senior before him would leave something behind. In the dorm room for the next occupier. Unfortunately for Duncan, his successor was a one semester student name Tim Macbeth. Duncan discovers a stack of CDs left by Tim that slowly reveal a tragic story. Duncan learns that Tim Macbeth was an albino. As a result of his condition, he had no friends but was very close to his parents. His family planed to move from Chicago and soon to Italy, but before that could happen Tim must spend his final semester of school in New York at Irving. When en-route to New York a snow storm had the family stranded. While stranded Tim had an encounter with a beautiful girl named Vanessa. She is also was on her way to Irving School. She was popular and had a boy friend. Although the connection Tim had with Vanessa was seemingly more than friendly, he did not let her know he would be at Irving School too. Duncan is glued to this story and when he isn't listening to it he is constantly thinking about it. Tim and Vanessa do eventually connect at Irving. Her friends don't like Tim and a few are rude and have no problem voicing their opinion. The group plans a ski trip and invite Tim. But the plan and the trip are not uneventful. As the story unfolds regarding the relationship between Tim and Vanessa and the other popular students, Duncan is finding that his connection could be his own tragedy paper.
Author Elizabeth Laban has created one book with three intertwining stories of solitude, love and tragedy. Readers will become attached to the characters and ultimately have a favorite. Laban uses all five senses in her writing. The vivid display of imagery is captivating and pulls the reader into the story with their emotions in the forefront. The romantic tension between Tim and Vanessa offers readers hope. The tension between Tim and the male character friends of Vanessa puts readers on edge. Readers will definitely understand why Duncan is hooked and can't stop thinking about finishing the CDs. Readers, parents and teachers will find this story a great way to open up dialogue about people, personalities and differences and how we can embrace them.