Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Teenage Romance and A Mystery: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

When Duncan Meade arrives for his senior year at the Irving School, an exclusive boarding school, he's preoccupied with several things: the tragedy paper assigned by his English teacher, where his room in the senior dorm will be, what surprise was left by the senior who occupied his room last year, and his interest in Daisy, another senior. His room assignment is his first disappointment. He has the least desirable room on the floor, and his surprise, a stack of CDs, isn't much better. Duncan starts to listen to the CDs and is immediately caught up in Tim Macbeth's story.

Time is an albino. He feels uncomfortable around other people and spends much of his time alone. However, on the way to Irving, he met Vanessa, also a senior at Irving, and fell heavily for her.
She, of course, is involved with the most popular boy at school. And so the story unfolds toward the tragedy.

The book does such a good job of portraying teenage angst that at times it's hard to read. The author is able to show that these kids are really hurting whether the circumstances justify it or not. The characters are believable, but rather different from the typical boarding school students. I particularly enjoyed meeting Tim, the albino.

The story hints at a mystery involving Tim, Vanessa, and Patrick. Duncan also had a part in it as a junior. It's one of the things making his senior year hard. I liked the way the author dropped hints about the mystery, but the ending didn't quite justify the buildup.

This is a good, but not great coming of age story. I recommend it, if you enjoy boarding school stories with unusual characters.