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The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy Paper

by Elizabeth LaBan

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Recently added byEHS-LMC, davidgn, ReadingRoom114
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    Looking for Alaska by John Green (amysisson)
    amysisson: "Looking for Alaska" explores tragedy much as "The Tragedy Paper" does, but doesn't spend so much time discussing it explicitly -- which in my mind makes it even more effective. The two books have the boarding school theme in common, as well as a special, unique young woman who has captured the protagonist's heart.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I wasn't too impressed with this book. I dived into the book with extremely high expectations that ended up not being met. I still remember the first time that I read the summary on Goodreads before the book had been published. It sounded amazing, no, it sounded spectacular. Looking back though, I think I fell in love with it because it wasn't about vampires, werewolves, and faeries. I always tend to drift towards books that aren't the current trend. I had my vampire and werewolf fix with Twilight, so at the time I was looking for books that did not even mention those two words.

In the book the current senior class has to write a long thesis paper or they refer to it as The Tragedy Paper. Throughout the year, their teacher Mr. Simon would drop hints about what to include if they wanted extra credit on it. The students truly had free reign with this paper, because the guidelines Mr. Simon did give were quite frank but specific. Reading about the stress and anxiety given by this paper brought back memories of a research paper that I had to complete my eighth grade year. Although, we just had to stress about it for a semester, not a whole school year. I found the two assignments quite similar. I could choose what ever topic I wanted, as long as I followed the few specific guidelines that were given.

My favorite character out of the whole novel is Mr. Simon. He, himself, attended Irving School, and now is the teacher for Senior English. He's one of those teachers who you want to dislike, because he is the giver of a difficult and lengthy assignment. However, he teaches the material in a way that makes you want to pay attention, and do well. He is charismatic, highly intelligent, gentle, and a bachelor who can bake amazing food. Do I need to say more?

I was really hoping that The Tragedy Paper would be a winner for me, but it just didn't capture me enough to lose myself into the world of the characters. The writing was boring, and if it wasn't for my curiosity about what happened the year before I probably would have started reading something else. This is a fine example about how I hate reading books that I and others have created hype around. (That's why I haven't read The Fault in Our Stars yet - too much hype especially now that the movie is out.)
( )
  mamelotti | Apr 24, 2015 |
Tim was a senior transfer at the Irving School in Westchester, New York. On his way there he was snowed in at the airport where he met Vanessa, a senior who also attended Irving. They quickly bonded and he fell in love with her, but knew their involvement would be short-lived because her boyfriend Patrick was jealous and because he was an albino. Read the rest of my review at: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/the-tragedy-paper-elizabeth-l... ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
Another reviewer posted on Goodreads that The Tragedy Paper is a cross between Looking for Alaska and 13 Reasons Why. I totally agree! Switching POV between Tim and Duncan truly brings emotion to the reader. I was transfixed by Tim’s story and was just as frustrated as Duncan when each CD ended. Tim’s story connected two boys in a way I never expected, even though in the end it was a tragedy.

As a middle school teacher, I wish all schools used things like a tragedy paper to get students thinking about connections in life. THIS is truly what Common Core is all about. Now, I’m not trying to flare up discussion about this topic–I know how heated it can get. But in Language Arts/Literature/English classes, it’s all about connecting literature and stories to our lives. I’m going to try something similar to this during school, but my focus will be on happiness or forgiveness or memories. Something a little less dark:)

A definite MUST read for the summer!! ( )
  kissedbyink | Jul 8, 2014 |
4Q, 4P

Elizabeth LaBan sucks us in with a story within a story. Duncan begins senior year and finds a stack of CDs left in his new room from the previous occupant, Tim. Duncan recalls that something tragic and haunting happened to Tim last year -- listening to the CDs tells him what happened to Tim leading up to that terrible night Tim disappeared. There really isn't a mystery, but the way the story is written, through Duncan's experience and listening to Tim's own story pulls the reader in to make it a quick read to find out what happens after all the CDs are listened to.

Great way to tell a story, especially with Duncan's and Tim's intertwining as the story goes on. I know some people were disappointed at the end, I can't say that I wasn't. However, it was still a great story and definitely one that leaves you thinking about your own actions and how they may affect others. ( )
  miss_bc | Jun 5, 2014 |
You are your own worst enemy. The Tragedy Paper, Elizabeth LaBan’s novel recently released in paperback, exemplifies how this statement is never more true than when you are a teenager.

Duncan Meade is about to start his senior year at the Irving School, a private school on the East Coast. He arrives on campus anticipating and dreading two important senior traditions—the “gift” that will be in his room, left by the previous occupant, and the Tragedy Paper, a paper all seniors have to complete before graduation. But the gift is not what he expected. Duncan finds a set of CDs promising to reveal the truth behind what happened at the previous year’s Senior Game and, in the process, help him complete his Tragedy Paper.

Tim MacBeth is the previous occupant of Duncan’s room and at the center of last year’s Senior Game accident. He recorded the CDs to describe how he ended up at the Irving School and what he went through once he was there.

Tim, a teenager with albinism, meets Vanessa, the stereotypical pretty and popular girl, on his way to the school. They happily keep each other company when their flight is delayed, and Tim is amazed at his luck. But, Vanessa of course has a boyfriend, and when they arrive at school, said boyfriend intimidates Tim, so he and Vanessa are forced to maintain their budding friendship on the sly. But Vanessa’s boyfriend also makes a point of including Tim in the planning of the Senior Game. Tim believes he’s only recruited as a joke, but he goes along with everything because, for once, he’s enjoying being included.

Tim, dealing with albinism, serves at the ultimate teenage outsider. While most teenagers find some way to fit in with their peers, Tim feels his very appearance, completely unalterable, keeps others away. Or does it? The CDs reveal that much of the distance between Tim and his peers is Tim’s misperception, and this misperception--that no one would possibly accept him--keeps him from befriending others. But others do try to befriend him, and as revealed by Duncan’s narrative, some people hardly noticed Tim at all.

The Tragedy Paper alternates between Tim’s and Duncan’s point of view. Perhaps because Duncan so often plays the part of a passive listener, Tim’s quickly becomes the more engaging narrative.

While The Tragedy Paper culminates by describing the fateful accident, the scope of the accident itself lacks the tragedy built up throughout the story. The accident does have horrible consequences, but weighing it against Tim’s own thoughts and actions as heard on the CDs, the outcome wasn't that unexpected. It felt that there was much ado about not so much. Much can be attributed to Tim’s lack of self-esteem, which has more to do with him being a typical teenager than it does with his albinism. But the book is full of teenage melodrama and angst, and teens should readily relate to the story.

The Tragedy Paper lacks the emotional depth of fellow YA narrator-on-an-audio-device novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher or the intricate boarding school mystery of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. But it illuminates the fragile teenage psyche using an unconventional narrator and explores the notion that everyone just wants to belong and the cost of making that happen. For that, teens should find The Tragedy Paper to be a worthwhile read.

(Review copy source: Publisher via NetGalley) ( )
  TheWordJar | Feb 20, 2014 |
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While preparing for the most dreaded assignment at the prestigious Irving School, the Tragedy Paper, Duncan gets wrapped up in the tragic tale of Tim Macbeth, a former student who had a clandestine relationship with the wrong girl, and his own ill-fated romance with Daisy.… (more)

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