Dear Ms. Laban,
Here we are, smack-dab in October already, and I’ve just found your book, THE TRAGEDY PAPER. I don’t know how I missed this little gem. It was sparkly, and beautiful, and poignant, and…delicious. More on that later.
For those of you, like me, who have gone without noticing this book on the YA shelves at your local bookstore, let me bring you up to date. THE TRAGEDY PAPER, by debut author Elizabeth Laban, is billed as a book for “anyone who loved Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY & John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA”. Okay, that alone made me read on. Mr. Green can do no wrong in my book, and Mr. Asher…well, I have a particular fondness for his work as well. But let’s not get sidetracked.
THE TRAGEDY PAPER is set in an elite boarding school known as The Irving School, where the motto over the main entrance archway reads “Enter here to be and find a friend”. Lovely. I wish more schools focused on friendship.The world would be a better place, don’t you think? The story follows two paths—that of Tim Macbeth and Duncan Meade— seniors who happen to live in the same room…albeit, in subsequent years. Each senior must leave a gift and a note for the next senior as they graduate, and Tim leaves Duncan a whopper! (I loved that he made CDs to listen to. Very contemporary.) While Duncan works his way through a love life, a school life and his own personal problems, he listens to Tim tell about his own tragic experiences at Irving the year before, and I must say, I don’t know which story was more gripping!
I was not ready for a book about an albino. And yet, this wasn’t about an albino at all. You crafted such a beautiful story around a group of seventeen-year-olds, and layered in a unique element that most of us haven’t had much experience with so that it made this book stand out from anything I’ve read this year. Thank you for showing me, as an aspiring author, how to weave together details I couldn’t have imagined would ever go together. I only wish I could make it look so easy!
Being a foodie, I was enamored with the locally grown food references in this novel. What a unique idea! I’m not sure if this will appeal to teen readers as much as it did to me— someone who enjoys cooking and tasting fresh, local resources—but it was fun and satisfying. (Although I shouldn’t have started this book while on a diet. Maybe you should put a sticker on the cover warning dieters?? Maybe not.)
To anyone who hasn’t read this yet, THE TRAGEDY PAPER grabs you from page one, drags you into the the mystery surrounding an albino, a set of CDs, a devilish senior year English assignment, and a secret compartment in the back of a closet, and doesn’t let you go until the very last page. Read it. Or listen to it (it was fabulous as an audiobook)! Ms. Laban is well on her way to becoming one of my favourite new authors.
And to Ms. Laban, thank you for this unexpected, tragic tale that made me turn up my phone (it’s how I listen to all my audiobooks) in the car, in the shower, and in the kitchen while making dinner…until I was finished. Truly wonderful.