The Tragedy Paper is a quintessential YA novel. It is set at a boarding school, replete with tradition and hijinx — always fun, right? — and involves a beautiful popular girl, an albino outcast guy, and a mysterious sort of backstory.
When Duncan arrives at the Irving School for his senior year, he has two things on his mind (well maybe 3, if you include girl trouble): which room he’ll get in the dorm and what the graduating senior who had the room before him will have left for him. It’s a tradition, and the gifts range from the personal, to the absurd, to the extravagant. Duncan is disappointed to find that he has been assigned to the smallest room, formerly occupied by the albino Tim. And his gift? It’s a stack of CDs from Tim that is his account of all that happened the year before.
Tim assures Duncan that it’s a true literary tragedy, which will help him with the senior English Tragedy Paper that all seniors worry over throughout the year.
This is an excellent trailer which should give you a feel for the story but doesn’t give too much away:
Even though I called it the “quintessential young adult novel,” it’s also the kind of YA that is perfect fare for adults who like this genre (perhaps because it is just so perfect on so many levels). I was slightly let down by the ending, but remembering that it’s really Duncan’s story, not Tim’s — as compelling as he is — helped me reframe that disappointment.
CONTENT NOTE: This definitely had a high school feel to it, a bit of intensity, but the content is pretty tame relative to other YA fare, so parents of middle school kids who read other mainstream YA will not likely find anything to object to. Other than some kissing, there was no sexual activity, and I don’t even remember any profanity (though there may have been a mild swear word or two that slipped by me).