Parents' Guide to

The Tragedy Paper

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Thoughtful story about a tragedy teen boy brings on himself.

The Tragedy Paper Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (1):

The twin narrative -- alternating between Duncan's experiences and Tim's flashback -- lends drama to the thoughtfully spun out story. Tim and Vanessa get off to a promising start, and their first encounter nicely captures the awkwardness and earnestness of teens on the brink of adulthood.

THE TRAGEDY PAPER is a decent debut novel, but author Elizabeth LaBan stirs up a lot of material that doesn't seem to go anywhere. Is Patrick really such a bad guy? Is Vanessa befriending Tim or toying with him? Adult authority figures described as strict or aloof turn out to be rather blandly kind. LaBan layers on the ominous foreshadowing, and the reader braces for grim ending a la Ethan Frome. But the climactic event isn't much of a shock and the menace ultimately lacks teeth. The real tragedy is quieter and should resonate with teens: how Tim let his self-consciousness and desire to be accepted get in the way of his better judgment, and how he brought suffering upon himself.

Book Details

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