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I Am the Messenger

Review

I Am the Messenger

Ed Kennedy, 19, is a cab driver who gets no respect (and actually feels like he doesn't deserve any). He lives in a shack with a stinky, coffee-drinking seventeen-year-old dog named the Doorman. He's in love with his friend Audrey but she refuses to love anyone and won't sleep with Ed because she "likes him too much."

Ed becomes a hero when he points a gun at the most incompetent bank robber the world has ever seen. Soon after, he receives his first message --- an Ace of Diamonds playing card with three addresses and times written on it. Ed realizes that this is more than an invitation; it's an assignment, and he feels compelled to respond. At the first address, he watches a man rape his wife. Ed knows he's been chosen, to care and to act. But how? And by whom?

Ed transforms from a self-absorbed (although funny and likeable) lout into a genuine hero, reaching out in a beguiling, unsentimental way to the others he's directed to find on the cards he receives. Sometimes his successes are sweet and simple but others are sickeningly painful and incomplete. Always lurking beneath the riveting story is the mystery --- who sends Ed his "assignments" and why?

Markus Zusak has a fine, whimsical way with words. Ed describes his friend: "Marv's the maestro of meanness with money. The prince of penny-pinchers." Another description gives us "...the silence of the street is swollen. It's scared and slippery as I wait for something to happen."

Good books entertain; great books tip your world ever so slightly. Don't be surprised if reading I AM THE MESSENGER shifts your perspective on your own life. The story is so good that it breaks your heart (I suspect I've just finished my favorite book of 2005). But don't take just my word for it --- I AM THE MESSENGER won the 2003 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Award.

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Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 18, 2011

I Am the Messenger
by Markus Zusak

  • Publication Date: February 8, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375830995
  • ISBN-13: 9780375830990