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I Am the Messenger Paperback – May 9, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up - Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence - either good or evil - of the person or persons sending the messages. Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations are believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw. Together, these key elements fuse into an enigmatically dark, almost film-noir atmosphere where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery - or series of mysteries - that could very well make or break his life. - Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Gr. 9-12. Ed is a 19-year-old loser only marginally connected to the world; he's the son that not even his mother loves. But his life begins to change after he acts heroically during a robbery. Perhaps it's the notoriety he receives that leads to his receiving playing cards in the mail. Ed instinctively understands that the scrawled words on the aces are clues to be followed, which lead him to people he will help (including some he'll have to hurt first). But as much as he changes those who come into his life, he changes himself more. Two particular elements will keep readers enthralled: the panoply of characters who stream in and out of the story, and the mystery of the person sending Ed on the life-altering missions. Concerning the former, Zusak succeeds brilliantly. Ed's voice is assured and unmistakeable, and other characters, although seen through Ed's eyes, are realistically and memorably evoked (readers will almost smell Ed's odoriferous dog when it ambles across the pages). As for the ending, however, Zusak is too clever by half. He offers too few nuts-and-bolts details before wrapping things up with an unexpected, somewhat unsatisfying recasting of the narrative. Happily, that doesn't diminish the life-affirming intricacies that come before. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
> "Why me?" I ask God. God says nothing. I laugh, and the stars watch. It's good to be alive.
The author was obviously influenced by Catcher in the Rye. The protagonist of the story is an anti-hero with seemingly mediocre mental resources and ambition. He has a similar lack of responsibility towards money, and also seeks love from an apparently average sort of woman.
> It makes me look deeper into the street, trying to find the future events in store. I'm happy.
The author uses the lyrical technique of having the story progress with a mysterious list. Much like And Then There Were None or Atlas Shrugged, a list appears without an obvious purpose, and the protagonist's adventure is to proceed through this list. And like Catcher in the Rye, we watch the protagonist's character grow as he proceeds through the adventure.
> I didn't know that words could be so heavy.
All of the above is extremely fun, and would have satisfied exactly what I was looking for. But then there's the "more." The author is able to interweave lyrical prose into his colloquial speech. Like a droplet of watercolor crashing into a glass of clean water, these moments of poetry bring extreme beauty to an otherwise simple appearance.
> This isn't about words. It's about glowing lights and small things that are big.
And then there's more beyond that. We find that through the character's growth, his mental faculties become stronger than we had thought. In the most believable and common way, he demonstrates cleverness. And then, like The Things They Carried, the reader can begin to wonder whether this is a story at all. Is this a book, or a letter, or something else?
> I want words at my funeral. But I guess that means you need life in your life.
I'm being purposefully vague. I worry that I've already revealed too much. In my life, I've come to realize that competence is unusual. Most people seem to stumble through life with the goal of minimal effort. Competence is so unusual that I celebrate it. In those rarest of occasions, I get to interact with something more than competence: excellence. I Am Messenger is one of those experiences. I hope that I get to meet Markus Zusak (the author) someday; I'd like to give him a hug.
> When the job's done, he smacks me on the shoulder and we run off like handsome thieves. We both laugh and run, and the moment is so thick around me that I feel like dropping into it to let it carry me. I love the laughter of this night. Our footsteps run, and I don't want them to end. I want to run and laugh and feel like this forever. I want to avoid any awkward moment when the realness of reality sticks its fork into our flesh, leaving us standing there, together. I want to stay here, in this moment, and never go to other places, where we don't know what to say or what to do. For now, just let us run. We run straight through the laughter of the night.
Ed Kennedy is an unmotivated slacker who drives a cab. He hangs with his (rather loser-y) friends, and is in the throes of unrequited love for Audrey, his best friend. One day he manages to catch an inept bank robber, and now he's a “hero”. And he immediately receives a playing card in the mail—an ace of diamonds. Three addresses are written on it. Ed has been chosen, and he is required to help these people. He's not sure who's “requiring” him to do this (but at one point when he wavers, some guys show up to get physical with him to guarantee he does the job!), and he's never told what help he's supposed to give. He has to figure it out.
Each person he helps becomes a tiny “storylet” that all add together to make up the main storyline of Ed's journey. It is Ed's very “unheroicness” that makes him such a touching hero. All the people he helps, without being the least bit sentimental, completely warm your heart.
This is just one of those books that touch you, and it's a feel-good story for sure. When you finish it, you will put it down with a sigh, and think “What a GOOD book!”
Most recent customer reviews
This is my read at least twice a year book. Each time I take away something new from it. Extremely relatable, funny and sad.Read more