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The Tragedy Paper - Elizabeth LaBan Not knowing the who, the what, or the whatever of a novel and starting it, is not a rare thing for me. Doing things this way has yielded some pretty terrible reads for me, but this method has also led me to discover some pretty good ones too (Burning Blue and The Story Teller are among the latter.) This one’s in the middle, but leaning toward the good the more I think of it. So, while I can’t say I loved this like I did the last author debut I read (Infinite Sky), I will say that this one pulled me in: my not knowing what it was about and then the needing to know what the big tragedy, plus that title? All these had me in place for four hours. Plus, it’s a rather quick read.There are two stories in this one, but connected ones, mind you. How the two are connected is revealed much later. First there’s Duncan a senior, unsure about what’s in store for him… no wait, he knows precisely what’s in store for him: what he has to do and why of it, but just doesn’t know how to go about it. Then Tim who’s different in a couple of ways, albino teen entering school second semester of his senior year; and it’s really easy to see why he feels like he’s sticking out… because he was. Duncan’s tale follows a year after Tim’s, so the bulk of this is Tim leading Duncan in a series of recordings through the step by step of his story (and maybe even the why’s behind it.) So, we see Tim, who wants to fit in but is resigned to that not happening, given all the circumstances. A lot of how he perceives others perceive him is a big thing here. Thus, the insecurities? They howl out from this kid, but not in the most obvious of ways, or perhaps that’s not accurate: he’d set himself apart, was perfectly aware over the possibility of him being mocked, and then there’s that not so little matter of the girl he’d encountered - and pegged unattainable. (I tell you now, I dislike/d this Vanessa character… though not because of what she was doing, but because of what she wasn’t. OK, maybe for both those reasons.) New kid has met great girl but isn’t sure about how things are going to be. Then, there’s the discovery of great girl and the matter of her not wanting to hurt certain other people. All the while, we see him moon over her as well as fail to connect with others. All throughout, I was waiting for him to be some way else. But then one helpful act on his part then another after impersonating furniture for the most part, well, we find him inexplicably part of a key traditional senior school activity. To be honest, I am not so sure about how I feel about both leads. Maybe I like that he’s (Tim is) so different. That rather than standard confident hot boy, he is unsure and feeling out of place not just because he is the new kid, but because he’s coming into a community of people who know each other and have figured out their places and all that. Then there’s Duncan and his unexplained distance from… everyone. It’s that distance that’s explained about him in this one. Here’s the thing, like Tim, this kid is not popular kid, but neither is he unpopular. Now unlike Tim we don’t really get to see a lot of who is, just a lot of how he was after the fact. And he’s sad and distant… but it’s because of Tim’s story that Duncan pushes himself out of his rut. And it’s on his part of the story that some the possibilities (the good kind) come through: of him and Daisy as well as him and his place in school. I liked this… I think there’s more to be told. Tim frustrated me, Vanessa had me angry.. but Duncan… in him I saw could have been’s. Then there’s how both their stories have, to use their teacher’s words, magnitude for them and those around them.