Duncan listens to Tim retell what happened that fateful day. Tim's voice is on cd's. I expected to grab tissues for this book. I never did need a tissue. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan remained like a newspaper story told by a news reporter who wanted to get all his facts straight. Perhaps, because it's holiday season or maybe because I'm a female I wanted a tear jerker. What I loved the most and what I gained the most from the novel were three words which describe a tragedy: "Order, chaos, order. I think this is a great description of the word tragedy whether a Shakespearean tragedy or a tragedy like the fire one of the students experienced in her life. Perhaps, Elizabeth LaBan freely gave me a way to mark my way through the next tragedy in my life. I must remember ultimately order will return. I would have read this novel to gain just the knowledge of these three words. There is a way to make it through the darkness. As Duncan and the girl faced their tragic moments I'm sure these words might have helped them.
When I first picked up the novel, I thought it would focus on what it is like to be born an Albino. I did gain a knowledge of their plight. I also gained far more than a scintillating tale about an Albino. I learned the measures we take to protect ourselves from rejection. For example, Duncan would make sure to sit for lunch at a table in the back where no one else would sit. Really, the other students had the problem not Duncan. Somehow when we're challenged differently we politely gather ourselves away from everybody else in order to protect their space. Isn't that ironic?
Then when Duncan wore the pink hoodie to hide his identity from other students and teachers I thought that would become a huge part of the novel. After all, society and the gender thing makes for wide ranging thoughts and division in our society today. I never knew where exactly Elizabeth LaBan was taking me.
As far as lessons, I learned when we are challenged, living daily with some dark hole in our life, we're willing to reach out and help others very quickly. When Patrick's girl friend becomes ill, Duncan stays with her. He empties her awful smelling vomit. He gives her ice cubes. He refuses to leave her side. Patrick, the so perfect guy leaves her side. He can't take it. He's unable to give himself fully to her at the most neediest time of her life at school. Duncan seemed the weakest of the two guys. Really, Duncan was the strongest one. Life is full of surprises. Life is full of serendipity. Life is full of chaos. Life is full of order. Mr. Boxersox is the type of teacher who makes our chaotic, perplexing adolescence days easier. I won't forget him. Is he related to Mr. Chips? "Let's go forth...." literarymamaelizabeth-laban