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I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak MAG
“Some people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabbie. He likes playing cards…and that is about it. He has no life goals, no plans or expectations. He just exists, that’s all. Every day he drives the same people to the same places, and his life is a mindless, peaceful routine—until he accidently stops a bank robbery. Ed is dubbed the town hero for a day or two before his life is supposed to go back to normal.
Then the first card arrives in the mail: an ace of diamonds with three addresses written on the back.
For the next six months, Ed is the messenger and his life is anything but dull. The playing cards inexplicably show up among the bills and coupons in his mailbox, three lines scrawled on them, waiting for Ed’s curiosity to get the best of him. At the first house he finds a man abusing his wife, at the second is a lonely old woman, and the third is the barefoot girl who just can’t win the race.
As Ed helps (and sometimes hurts) the people he is led to, he is sent more cards—more people he has the opportunity to save. His life is drastically changed, but when the Joker arrives with the last three clues the real question is: who is helping who?
Because the novel is set in the modern day, it is easy to relate the problems that Ed has. He struggles with his identity, with low self-esteem, with being hopelessly in love with his best friend Audrey. He watches her strut around with her boyfriend and looks back at himself…alone with his smelly old dog, The Doorman.
He really is a typical nineteen-year-old. Well, he was until the messages came. The people he meets because of the cards change his life completely. They force him to think outside the box. They make him think about others and not himself. They give his life a purpose other than driving a cab around Melbourne.
He becomes Jimmy, the man who reads Wuthering Heights to his aging wife, and he gives the barefoot girl what she needs to cross the finish line. He is given a gun and the chance to hurt a man who hurts others. He buys an ice cream cone and beats up a kid, strings up Christmas lights and finally asks his mom why she hates him so much.
The last card is the hardest, because it hits close to home. The three names mean the most. But you’ll have to read the book for yourself if you want to know what happens next. (Yes, I am that mean.)
For fans of The Book Thief and Getting the Girl, Markus Zusak’s latest novel is just as haunting and poetic as his other works. Ed is witty and sarcastic, but he has the same tragic-yet-triumphant voice as Leisel Memminger.
I give this book ten out of ten stars. It has everything! Romance, action, humor, mystery, tragedy, friendship, and a twisting plot. The ending was impossible to guess because of the intricate web Zusak weaved between the chapters. Each time Ed received a new card, I couldn’t even imagine how much more interesting the book could get—but he did it! He made me love Ed a thousand times more every page.
Of all the genres of books out there, sci-fi and fantasy, mystery and action, my favorite by far is inspirational. Most of the time inspiring books are hard to come by, unless you’re really into biographies and World War II documentaries. I Am the Messenger inspired me. It made me want to do something with my life, because it took someone like an underage cabbie with no prospects, with no ambition to make a difference in the world. And it made me think, if someone like Ed Kennedy can change the lives of so many people, there’s a chance that I can do the same.
I Am the Messenger is a brilliantly written novel, and winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award as well as a Michael L. Printz Honor Book.
As the novel, sadly, draws to a close you will begin to wonder if something as magical as this novel is as impossible as it seems. Ed Kennedy will inspire you to stop reading books about great people and to go out and be one.