The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

By: Alyssa Wynans Email
By: Alyssa Wynans Email

There are so many books out there where the main characters go to boarding schools, and it has got me wondering, are boarding schools really that common? They definitely aren’t down here in the South, but the majority of these books seem to be set in the Northeast. Or is it simply popular among authors because boarding school settings provide for extra drama?

I digress.

I recently read a book called The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban. Duncan is a senior at a boarding school (surprise!) where the senior English teacher assigns a Tragedy paper to every class (This becomes important later in the book). Duncan’s story really begins when he finds a bunch of CDs stashed away in his new dorm room that were made by Tim, an albino student who had graduated the year previously, on which Tim tells the story of his own senior year.

My main critique of The Tragedy Paper was that it was a bit anti-climactic. The whole thing is building up to the big reveal of what happened the night of the senior game and then it gets there and you’re like “…really?” Don’t get me wrong, it was very sad and tragic and all that. I guess my main issue was that it wasn’t very imaginative. I expected a lot more. From the beginning, I was trying to guess who died at the end. *Spoiler Alert* No one dies…

Mostly I found myself thinking that Tim is an idiot.

Another issue is something I have found that happens fairly regularly when a female author is writing from a boy’s point of view; the boys didn’t seem to act very boy-ish. Call me cynical, but I don’t think most boys are quite as girly as Laban made them seem.

As a whole, I did enjoy The Tragedy Paper. It was engaging and definitely kept me reading eagerly up until the last page. It did leave something to be desired in the overall execution, though.

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