What makes something tragic? Is it different for everyone? Tim has never viewed his life as tragic, per se, however, as he heads out to begin the last semester of his senior year of high school at a new boarding school, he has to come face to face with the idea of tragedy. First, because it is a major school assignment to write a tragedy paper for his English class. And second, because he thinks he’s fallen in love for the first time, and the girl of his focus already has a boyfriend.
It all starts with a plane layover in Chicago due to a snow storm. Tim, who is pretty closed off from others, is shocked when he seems to make a connection with a beautiful girl named Vanessa. She doesn’t appear to be put off by the fact that Tim is an albino. They have an amazing time but Tim isn’t sure how to react when he realizes that Vanessa is going to his school. He believes everything will change once they arrive at school, and Vanessa is back with her boyfriend, Patrick.
Once at The Irving School, Tim struggles to fit in, more because he is so focused on trying to connect again with Vanessa than due to students shunning him. Tim can’t figure out Patrick, who appears to at once reach out to him, and at the same time push him away. When Patrick includes Tim on the preparations for the traditional senior Game, Tim is parts thrilled and parts skeptical. Why is Patrick behaving this way toward him, when it is clear Tim likes Vanessa?
The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban looks at what it means to want something so much but at the same time, see it slipping through your fingers. Tim’s story is told in a series of CDs that have been left for the next senior who will have his room. As Duncan listens to what happened to Tim months before, he begins to examine his own life and how he might be able to learn from Tim’s mistakes before it is too late.
Recommended for mature 7th graders and up.