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on February 11, 2017
I recently read John Grisham's The Racketeer. It was a very fun book; and if you're looking for some brain bubblegum, then I recommend it. And when I was done, I went looking for another fun book. The recommendation that I found was I Am The Messenger. It turned out to be the fun that I was looking for. I wasn't prepared, though, for just how much more than fun this book would be.

> "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.
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on September 14, 2016
One of the most beautiful stories I have read in a long time. And I don't even enjoy YA - like, ever.

I remember having liked the Book Thief by Zusak, and this e-book went on sale one day so I thought I'd check it out. The storyline is much different from the Book Thief and I went into it without any expectations.

The very first chapter, in which Ed and his friends find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery, had me hooked. The dialogue was amusing and I jumped right in, reading almost half the book in one sitting.

As Ed receives clues throughout the story for messages he's supposed to deliver to people within his community, the novel unfolds to deliver everything from humor, to love, to hope, to inspiration.

When I finished the last page, I realized I was smiling as I sat on my couch. There are so many wonderful lessons to take from this book, and I think it's a must read for anyone. It's a quick paced bit of mystery that will linger in your thoughts for days to come.

It might even make the world a better place. :)
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on May 3, 2017
Author Markus Zusak is a master at taking a somewhat unlikely protagonist and and deftly inserts them into your heart! Just like The Book Thief, this book gave me All. The. Feels.

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!”
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on May 12, 2017
There were a few times that I wondered what this was about, and why was I reading it, but I kept turning the pages because I fell in love with the protagonist. You will be rooting for Ed. He's just a guy. Just a young man struggling to make sense of it all, and yet he is so amazing. I can't say anything more without giving away the ending. Just read it. There's a lovely message within every page. I would expect nothing more from the author of "The Book Thief". Markus Szusak, you are my author hero.
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on June 30, 2016
Whether the author intended this book to be a realistic novel where the plot actually could occur, a pure fantasy of events, an allegory of the growth towards adulthood or the mere wanderings of a nineteen year old teenager’s mind matters very little. For the message remains the same; we receive back from life that which we put into it, if we give little, we receive little and what we give to others we actually give to ourselves . No, this is not a book that have flowery descriptions nor is it one that explores our spirituality nor professionalism. It simply examines life for what it is; a scary and demanding place in which we either define who we are or waste our lives slovenly living it through with a mundane future bleakly lying ahead of us.

While “The Book Thief” received the accolades that it richly deserved, so, too, should this novel be recognized for what it is; a book with deep and profound meaning. The author, while hoping to have a young adult learn from its contents, the novel is, likewise, meant for all of us. When we are faced with a challenge do we have a tendency to do the ‘easy thing’? Or do we, like our protagonist, attempt the hardest and most onerous action? For only then can we expect ourselves to grow and to understand those who are around us. Only then can we retire each night and say, quite honestly, I gave today all I had to give.

In our data-filled and confusing world have we become overwhelmed with mere survival and/or the constant repetition of daily tasks or have we spent the time to come to deeply know ourselves? We can never know our limitations until we have attempted to exceed them. We can never truly define who we are unless all options are acted upon. Let us not only become the messenger that is carried to others, but let us become the message and the role model for others to follow.................
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on June 24, 2013
Australian author Markus Zusak, best well known for his New York Times Best seller, The Book Thief, wrote I Am The Messenger beforeThe Book Thief came out. This book is full of quirky, sweet, loveable, terrible pasionate and just plain funny characters. although this book was written for the young adult reader, I found it to be enjoyable did all of my other 30 something friends and my 60 year old father! this book takes you on a life changing journey with character Ed Kennedy. Ed is just a regular 19 year old nobodywho discovers, with a little help from mysterious sources, that life can be full of beauty, hope, violence, simple joys and caring. you will find out how it's done in I Am The Messenger. I love this book so much I have listened to it on audible and bought three copies from Amazon. 2 copies were for friends who are a little bit like Ed. Enjoy the book!
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on July 3, 2016
I was surprised. I bought the book accidently, read the first chapter, decided I didn't like the style of writing, but wanted to know what happened next. By the third chapter I became accustomed to the writing style and just kept reading. As the book progressed I laughed, I cried -- I went through a lot of emotions, and felt better for it. I found myself really caring about the 4 street kids (not kids really, but young adults.) Even "minor" characters were wonderfully drawn into the story. This is definitely not just a children's book -- I wish it had been around when I taught 9th grade English. It's a book kids will understand and be able to read, and grown ups will find themselves thinking about a lot of things, big things, small things, things one could, should, might do or have done differently. It's a book that needs to be talked about in a book club, a classroom,and a church.. I've never thought about advising a church reading group to read something like this -- but yes, it belongs there too! Read it. Now.
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on January 12, 2016
A Truly Amazing Book

“The gunman is useless.” That is the first sentence on the first page of the book I am The Messenger by Markus Zusak. From that point I was completely drawn in. That quote as well as the entire book is told from the point of view, the voice of, Ed Kennedy a low level cab driver. He is nineteen and feels like he has accomplished nothing in his life. He constantly compares himself to the likes of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali who had accomplished much by age nineteen, which furthers Ed’s Depression. He begins to receive playing cards with mysterious tasks and addresses scrawled on them.
Markus Zusak creates a work that is simultaneously hilarious and tear wrenching and really deep. I am the Messenger is not your run-of-the-mill teen book, which follows the same formula every time. The character relationships are extremely complex and for once I found myself really invested in the characters’ inner conflicts and outer relations. This book is perfectly written, flawless. Anybody who has the slightest good taste for books would adore this book as much as I did. I applaud you Markus Zusak.
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on February 9, 2016
I was inspired by the main character Ed’s very normal life. Maybe normal is too nice a word. His life is more mediocre. He doesn’t have any ambitions or achievements or direction really. The story is about him receiving anonymous cards in the mail that challenge him to help people. He changes their lives in small and big ways just by being observant. It made me want to observe and serve others more. If an ordinary guy can help in small ways, then so can I.

After reading I Am The Messenger, I got that chance.

I saw a guy shopping for baby formula at the grocery store. He would look at a can of baby formula for a minute and put it back. Then he’d look at another can. Then he’d put it back. I found this strange and fascinating. Most people quickly dump 8 cans of the exact same formula in their shopping cart and hurry off. I have never seen someone compare types of baby formula so carefully.

This guy was taking his time for some reason. I continued to watch him (he didn’t notice because he was now scrutinizing a fifth can of formula) and tried to figure out what situtation would make someone shop for formula like that. He must never have bought it before. Maybe he has a wife at home with a screaming newborn baby and was instructed to “get formula” only to find the grocery store has 473829 kinds. And now he doesn’t know what kind to get. So I went up to him and helped explain the difference between the 439280 kinds of formula and gave him a coupon. He seemed grateful. I imagined him going home to his wife victorious because he’d gotten the right formula AND used a coupon.

It’s not life changing or anything. That being said, Ed didn’t feel like he was doing anything life changing either.

It’s not a big thing, but I guess it’s true— big things are often just small things that are noticed.

-Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger (p. 221).

But it reminded me that kindness, true kindness, comes from listening and observing others to see what they really need. Small acts of kindness are big in their own way.

The reason this story works is because it’s crude, crass, biting, sarcastic, and full of swearing. Let me explain. The writing hides the preachiness of the story so well that I really enjoyed reading it and it wasn’t until the end that I realized I learned something. I’m not saying something has to be crude for you to learn something. But hiding a story about serving others in a crude story might accidentally teach someone something when all they had really intended was to pick up an entertaining book. Making it a little crude can also make the story relatable so you close the book feeling like the character did things that you are more than capable of doing, too.

There were some parts of the writing that I found so beautiful. Here’s one of my favorite quotes. I just love how Markus Zusak takes a cliche saying and switches the words around to paint a lovely picture:

Quietly, Marv cries.

His hands appear to be dripping on the wheel. The tears grip his face. They hold on and slide reluctantly for his throat.

-Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger (p. 316).

I like that the tears grip his face instead of his hands gripping the wheel. But I can still imagine the image of tears gripping his face like he’s trying so hard not to cry but he can’t help it. I find it so beautiful for some reason.
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on January 12, 2016
<b>Review also found on <a href="https://booksncalm.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/i-am-the-messenger/">Books N' Calm</a></b>
This book was great. I didn’t go into expecting much. I thought it would be a heavy/dark book like The Book Thief. But it wasn’t as dark/heavy. It was mostly light but towards the end it got a bit heavy. The book was funny and touching. It was light and at the same time kind of philosophical.

I was a bit confused about the setting of the book. The swearing and some of the words made it seem like it was set in England (and the audiobook said rugby while the book said soccer). And I’m pretty sure the book said it was set in New York. Maybe I made that up. IDK.

On a bit of a side note, the audio book reader is kinda boring (I used the audio book along with reading because sometimes I had a song stuck in my head which distracted me from reading and the audio book helped me focus on the story). So my suggestion would be just read the book.

The ending was kind of confusing. I liked it but I was left wondering who was leaving the messages. I found the answer in the Goodreads FAQ part of the book though.

The book really reminds me of a book/movie called The Gift. I don’t remember the author. In the book, the main character’s great uncle dies. In the great uncle’s will, all his family members get small portions of his wealth but he leaves all his money to the main character, a spoiled young man. But there’s a condition, the main character has to go through all these challenges with a bunch of limitations (like he has a really small monthly allowance and can only live off of that allowance money). The main character does all the challenges and ends up a better man. Ed kind of does the same sort of thing with the cards.
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