The Tragedy Paper

Author: Elizabeth LaBan

Duncan’s excitement at beginning his senior year at Irving High School is poignantly mixed with memories of the previous year and the tragic happenings of that time. What’s worse, those memories that he’s been trying to avoid are brought to the forefront when he finds a gift in his room from the senior who had it the year before (an Irving tradition, one of many). First issue: the previous owner of the room was Tim, an individual intimately involved in the tragedy of the prior year. Second issue: a large part of the gift is recordings Tim made telling his side of the story from that time–a time Duncan has vowed to put in the past. Still, he finds himself inexorably drawn into Tim’s story–to the extent that it’s affecting his social life and studies. Perhaps this too is necessary to find resolution and move on. . . .

My reading The Tragedy Paper is totally the result of a random conversation I had in the local bookstore. (I love those! Random conversations in bookstores, that is.)  Anyhow, my opinions of the story are mixed. The author seems to be trying to construct a modern version of a classic tragedy (not a copy of any specific one, just a story in that style). I think she does this well, but it seems a bit constricted to the style, if that makes sense. Like, it would be a good book to read to get a better understanding of the concept of a classic tragedy (for class, say), but it doesn’t work quite as well as just a novel to read for fun. Still, I enjoyed the story in spite of that one complaint. In its favor, the story provides some interesting insight into the everyday challenges faced by albinos, which was both interesting and awareness-raising. I can’t say I’ve ever read another story dealing with that particular topic. So, my overall opinion of The Tragedy Paper is that it would be a good book to read to gain a sense of the concept of a tragedy and an okay story in most other regards–but do not read it if you need a happy ending to your stories.

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