The Tragedy Paper

Elizabeth LaBan. Knopf, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-375-87040-8
The legend of a curse “that every year a senior would leave for some unforeseen reason” provides an eerie backdrop to this story set at Irving, a prestigious, tradition-laden boarding school. Foreshadowing and dramatic tension build through alternating, parallel narratives of two seniors in consecutive years, as details of a tragedy involving both boys gradually unfold. Duncan, occupying a room previously inhabited by recent graduate Tim, inherits Tim’s CD recordings describing “the words, the music, my downfall, as well as your perceived or actual role in it.” Tim’s first-person voice is a compelling combination of compassion and analysis, revealing his lifelong challenge of albinism, the unexpected romantic triangle he enters into, and choices that set in motion unfortunate events. Narrative transitions to Duncan’s third-person viewpoint are occasionally jarring; like Duncan, readers will likely find Tim’s senior year trials more interesting. As the relationship between the two characters becomes clearer, however, Duncan’s tale conveys greater dramatic resonance. A playful element infuses the story as tragic themes described in English class play out in the characters’ dramas, adding texture to this strong debut. Ages 12–up. Agent: Uwe Stender, TriadaUS Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012
Release date: 01/08/2013
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4481-7317-4
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Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-307-93048-4
Library Binding - 312 pages - 978-0-375-97040-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-2199-6
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