Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Title:  The Tragedy Paper
Author:  Elizabeth LaBan
Series:  None
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date:  January 8, 2013
Pages:  304
Format/Source:  Hardback/Borrowed from Library
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary, Mystery

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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)

Just Fell a Little Short…

The Tragedy Paper was my book club’s April selection, and we all found it to be okay.  For me, it seemed like there wasn’t quite enough mystery, or maybe the ending just wasn’t quite big enough for me.  It felt like I was constantly trying to compare it to Dead Poets Society, although I’m not sure that’s very fair.

I liked the idea of a Tragedy Paper–I wish my school had been cool enough to assign papers like that.  And I liked the fact that there’s a curse on the school, where each year, one student never comes back for one reason or another.  It reminded me of the curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts class in Harry Potter.

But I had a few issues with it.  For one thing, that synopsis–it really doesn’t explain the format of the story very well.  Because the whole story line with Tim and Vanessa happened the year before, and Duncan finds out about it during his senior year, which is the current time of the story.  And while the synopsis says that Duncan is a “current senior”, it doesn’t say anything about the time period of Tim and Vanessa’s story.  So I thought going into the book that these kids were all seniors at the same time.  Also, this is just me being a bit nit-picky, but that first sentence in the synopsis is incomplete…  I had a few other issues as well, but I don’t want to spoil anyone, so I can’t really explain them here.  They weren’t huge issues, but they were enough to keep me from really loving this story.

My rating for The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan:

More like 3 1/2 stars.  I did enjoy it, I just felt like it was a little lacking.  Like I was expecting more.  A bigger ending, a bigger mystery–just something more.  But check out some other reviews that I’ve listed below by bloggers who enjoyed this story more than I did.

Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Random House 
Disclaimer:  I borrowed a copy of this book from my library.  I was in no way compensated for this review.


  1. Brandi Kosiner

    April 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Aw, sorry it was missing that extra something that makes it great. I do like the concept and it would've been cool in high school I agree

  2. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    April 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I'm sorry that this book didn't really end up being what you thought. I actually enjoyed it, but I wasn't really trying to compare it, it's definitely not The Dead Poet's Society.. that's for sure. And I never actually noticed the thing with the first sentence in the synopsis.. that bugs me too! Great review :)

  3. fakesteph

    April 30, 2013 at 4:26 am

    I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this. This one has so much POTENTIAL and I think I want to read it!

  4. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    April 30, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Bummer that you didn't like this one as much as you wanted to. I still want to read it but honestly I have no idea when I would get to it.

  5. Dana

    May 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    oh bummer! I fangirled all over this one when I reviewed it. I loved it so much.

  6. Sarah Elizabeth

    May 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Good to see a review in the middle, most reviews I've seen have either loved or hated this!

Leave a Reply

Want to include a link to one of your blog posts below your comment? Enter your URL in the website field, then click the button below to get started.