Odd Shelf: I am the Messenger

As usual, I’m a little late to the gravy train.

This book was first recommended to me in . . . 2009, I believe. And I put it on the to-read list and never got around to it. Then The Book Thief came out (which is stellar . . . ) and I had to read that first, and well . . .

I’ve had the expectation of reading a good book and am finally getting around to it.

And I Am the Messenger, by Mark Zusak is good, folks.


Ed Kennedy is a 19-year-old cabdriver, who is, as he describes himself, nothing special (“I’m just another stupid human.”). But one day he gets a playing card in the mail (the ace of diamonds), with three addresses written on it. Each address leads him to a person he’s supposed to help.

  1. He must save a woman who is raped by her husband almost every night.
  2. He must comfort a lonely old lady.
  3. He must show a teenage girl how to take control of her life and become more confident

The rest of the book continues in this vein. There’s a poetry to Zusak’s writing and you’ll find yourself wanting to help people when you get done reading it.

Occasionally, his language gets a little overly figurative. I found myself saying, “Just say what you mean to say, Zusak.” But it’s not too distracting. The ending is not completely logical nor plausible, and somewhat abrupt, but I was forgiving because the story was in the journey, and Ed’s personal ending (how he grows) was what brought the real satisfaction, not how the cards came to be.

A fine example of championing the Every Man and putting meaning in little details. “It’s not a big thing, but I guess it’s true–big things are often just small things that are noticed.” Less of a page turner, but definitely impacting.

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