by Markus Zuzak
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: 2002
Format Read: Kindle E-Book
Meet Ed Kennedy – underage cab driver, pathetic card player, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives…That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains. Who’s behind Ed’s mission?
Markus Zuzak has gained just fame with The Book Thief, which is an enduring favorite of both mine and Emily’s, but I have to say that my actual favorite book of his is this one. The Book Thief is a masterwork, combining the Holocaust and the healing power of words in one awesome swoop, but I Am the Messenger gives me hope for humanity.
I think part of this is because you start with such an uninspiring main character. There is absolutely nothing special about Ed Kennedy…born, raised and existing in the same poverty-stricken city, driving cabs, where his only real form of social interaction is playing card games with friends. Therefore, when he stops a bank robber from escaping, it’s an action that changes things.
What I really, absolutely love about this book is that it inspires you to see the good in people. To think that everyone, given the chance, could be a hero. It’s all about the triumph of humanity and goodness. But, despite how sappy that sentence sounds, it’s not sappy about things. Ed deals with difficult things in his quest for good–an abusive husband, a tyrant of a father, a mother who doesn’t love her child, broken people.
Markus Zuzak has a real gift for capturing the humanity of people, and making it beautiful nevertheless. It’s obvious in The Book Thief, when he shines humanity into a dirty little dorf near Dachau, and even more so here, as Ed goes on his quest. He interacts with people from all walks of life, radically different characters, and Zuzak makes every single one of them beautiful. And what is even better is that at the end, Ed is someone. He’s gone from being a nobody cab driver to someone with confidence, someone who helps people, something of a hero even.
I’m not going to say a lot about a love story, since there’s not really much of one–I mean, there’s enough to provide tension, since Ed is desperately in love with his best friend Audrey, who keeps him at arms length–but there is a general sense of love in the story. Love between parents and children, or siblings, or friends…it’s all there.
Ugh, this entire thing is sounding sappy. Thank goodness Zuzak also has a gift for balancing grand moral lessons with sass and sarcasm. The first scene in the book is the sassiest scene ever (hint: he and his friends are back-talking a bank robber), and it’s hilarious. Ed’s voice is wry, sarcastic, verging on dark sometimes, but he also keeps making these surprising moralistic observations. Both make me happy.
And the ending…I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I LOVE the last moral idea, the idea that we could all be heroes, agents of good, if we just stepped up to the plate. I’m torn about how he presents it, how he pulls religion into a book that had previously been mostly lacking. Oh, and Audrey…still not sure about her role either. But if that is one (slightly) weak point in a book that is strong everywhere else…hey, I’m happy.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.