Review of The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban |Fiction Friday|

The real tragedy is that I thought tragedy was spelled “tradgedy”…


“Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, 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, 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, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

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 of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their love.” (From Goodreads)

Rating: 3.75/5 Crowns

Comparable Book(s): Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Review

Over all, I’m glad I read The Tragedy Paper. It gave me the opportunity to read from the unique perspective of an albino. The book isn’t entirely about Tim’s albinoism but it definitely affects his personality. It turned him into an outcast. It also made me feel more connected to Tim because I just wanted him to feel loved and accepted. That said, I didn’t connect to any other character except Tim. While I didn’t dislike the others, I also didn’t care about them.

The Irving school was also interesting to read about. School is a common setting in contemporary YA but Irving has a lot of tradition tied to it that make it special. For example, the secret compartment in Tim’s room, the senior games and the “treasure” are all apart of it’s history. There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding the school as well. The main mystery being what happened during the senior game? And how did it impact Tim, Vanessa and Duncan?

However, once the big “tragedy” is revealed, it’s underwhelming. In my opinion what happened during the senior games wasn’t a tragedy. From that point in the book and forward, I was left with feelings of “Oh, that’s it?”. What happened was unfortunate but, in my humble opinion, not tragic.

I felt mislead because it seemed like Duncan would have a much bigger role in the tragedy. (SPOILER: he didn’t.)

I also think that Vanessa is too “manic pixie dream girl” for my liking. In some ways it seemed like Tim only wants her because she’s the popular girl who would never fall for the albino. Vanessa acts especially “manic pixie” when we first meet her at the airport. What kind of person – notably, a young girl traveling alone – gets a hotel room with a stranger? Maybe I’m paranoid but I think that’s a dangerous idea.

Multiple times Tim says that “the rules don’t apply” to them simply because she stays in the hotel room with him, orders breakfast for dinner, etc. It’s all very “manic pixie”, for lack of a better term.

We also don’t know much about Vanessa. We know that she has siblings and likes snow and wears one bright color every day but that’s it. It’s like she’s there for the sole purpose of giving Tim a romantic interest and changing his life. Her aspirations, hobbies – any part of her personality that doesn’t involve liking Tim – don’t come up.

I know it sounds like I didn’t like the book, but I was going to give it a 4.5/5 up until the reveal of the “tragedy” occurred. I really enjoyed the idea of the plot, but some of the execution fell flat for me. I’d recommend it to those who liked Thirteen Reasons Why and to anyone interested in reading about an albino character.

If you’ve read The Tragedy Paper, let me know what you thought about it!

– Queen Celine


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