by Molly Leahy
The Tragedy Paper
In her first young adult novel, The Tragedy Paper, Philadelphia’s Elizabeth LeBan invites readers to an elite boarding school for dual story-telling. Readers follow Tim Macbeth, a new student who transfers to Irving School, as well as, Duncan Meade, who inherits Tim’s dorm room and his collection of CDs narrating a personal nightmare the previous school year. Both students are linked by English teacher Mr. Simon’s legendary writing assignment known as the Tragedy Paper.
A sign reading “Enter here to be and find a friend” greets students as they enter the school, and fortunately, Duncan has a core group of friends to help him through senior year, unlike Tim. Readers may recognize a classic love triangle between Tim, his only friend Vanessa Scheller, and her jerk boyfriend Patrick Hopkins. The Irving School Bulldogs read Moby Dick and Hamlet, while their English teacher Mr. Simon challenges them to understand themes such as magnitude, and order from chaos. LaBan creates true order from chaos in her choice of narrative structure, recorded CDs that captivate Duncan who can’t stop listening to Tim’s tale, just as readers can’t stop turning pages. Read more