The Tragedy Paper – Elizabeth Laban

“As Duncan walked through the stone archway leading into the senior dorm, he had two things on his mind: What “treasure” had been left behind for him and his Tragedy Paper. Well, maybe three things: he was also worried about which room he was going to get.” 

Every year the graduating seniors at The Irving School, leave behind a treasure for the new senior who get their room. When Duncan arrives back for his last year at the school he inherits what is commonly thought of as the worst room, and what he thinks is quite possibly the worst ‘treasure’. His treasure is a pack of CDs, CDs which his predecessor, Tim Macbeth, made himself; spilling his secrets and the truth behind some of the events of the previous year… 
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I was intrigued by this one as soon as I read the blurb. I’m all for a mystery and I knew that The Tragedy Paper would be mystery, suspense and tragedy all rolled into one. I knew I would love it and now I’ve finished I can happily say I did. 
The story is brilliant, its clear from very early in that something involving both Duncan and Tim happened the year before, something major that ended in blood. The Tragedy Paper is one of those books where the thing that happened isn’t revealed until very late on so I wont be saying anything about that. The book itself is more about uncovering what happened prior to the ‘event’ and what is happening currently, to Duncan, because of it. I loved learning about the life at The Irving School and how both boys were so different, yet very much alike, and how they both had their own things going on. I was engrossed from the start and found the book so hard to put down! 
The split perspective works brilliantly and I loved that although Tim isn’t present, he’s still very much there. His story was so lovely and yet so heartbreaking that I wanted to gather him up and give him a cuddle. There was a love triangle of sorts involving him, Vanessa and Patrick which was done so well and yet made me hate Patrick, and sometimes Vanessa, a lot. Duncan was sweet but I got the feeling he didn’t show that side of himself to many people, I loved his relationship with Daisy but he let everything get to him a lot so it often felt like he was overwhelmed with what he was hearing. This made him seem so much more real that many character’s I’ve encountered though and I think he was a brilliant portrayal of a teenage boy. 
I think the school, its teachers and its setting were perfect for the type of book this was and I think that the Tragedy Paper was a fantastic idea, I loved that that was made a major theme of the book and it made the title make complete sense. I think Mr Simon has to be one of the best teachers I’ve come across in fiction and his sense pulling the literature out into real life made this book come alive for me. 
The book is written by a woman, and there’s an age old theory in which some people (not me!) claim that women can’t write realistic male main characters and men can’t write realistic female characters. This book is one to quash those theories dead, Elizabeth Laban has created not one, not two, but three very realistic male characters… I’m classing Patrick as one because he features so prominently in the book! I loved the way this book was written, the characters within it and the story it told and I believe that many others will feel the same way. 
The Tragedy Paper will be released on January 10th by Doubleday, a Random House imprint. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Oh I’ve not seen this one before. Brill review! I’ll have to make sure I get a copy for the bookshop.

    I hate that people think men and women can’t write form the prespective of the other sex! What rubbish! And you would think with the likes of J.K Rowling with Harry Potter and so on, people would be over such things.

    I’ll add this to the list for when I can buy books again!

  • I’m really looking forward to reading my copy especially after your fab review!

  • Ooh, this is high up my pile of books to read. I love the sound of it.