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The tragedy paper – Elizabeth Laban




This book reminded me very much of Donna Tartt’s  ‘Secret History‘ – a book that I found fascinating – part thriller, part mystery, part ‘coming of age’….

Set in an exclusive boarding school in NY State, the story begins to be narrated by Duncan. But this soon switches to the voice of Tim, left behind on a number of CDs for Duncan to find, as the next inhabitant of the room at the end of the hallway.

Tim, a senior the previous year, was sent there to finish his final year before heading to college. As an pure white albino, Tim has always found it hard to fit in – not helped by the fact that he is meant to wear extremely obvious protective glasses – meant to prolong the life of his hyper sensitive eyes.

Each year, the seniors organise ‘the game’ – a prank meant to be bigger and than the year before’s one (very American!) All of this is set against the pressure of writing the notorious ‘tragedy paper’ for their Senior English class.

The multiple narrative voices cleverly recount the events of the past and present.

A good read. You can view a very beguiling book trailer for it here 



Into the river – Ted Dawe

  • Into the river is the latest winner of the NZ Post Children’s book awards.

Into the river is a gritty, disturbing view of the racism,sexism and violence that existed beneath the surface at a NZ boarding school. Te Arepa, who is from a small, rural town,  is accepted as a scholarship  student at a slick private school, and quickly learns that to survive in this new environment he must make his Maoridom ‘invisible’. While this may well have been the case at the time the novel was set,  I felt the school section was  somewhat contrived and the characters two dimensional. The first section of the novel is very believable – Te Arepa is the pride of his whanau. He carries the mana of his tribe –  he is going to revitalise and rebuild –  big expectations for a 15 yr old to carry.

Aimed at older teens, the content will be of interest – school boys’ angst; sport; cars and violence!  Devon (the nickname the Te Arepa adopts at boarding school) finds it incredibly difficult to fit in and fulfill the  aspirations of his tribe on his shoulders. As he struggles to deal with this he becomes more divorced from his true reality and heritage.

Definitely a binto_the_river_N2ook for seniors as the language at times and some content, is at senior level.

You can read more about it here