‘I Am the Messenger’ by Markus Zusak
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Sometimes it’s good to go back to your old favorites. As college students, it can be easy to drown in an ocean of esoteric academic texts; I believe it is highly important to read not only for pleasure, but also for recollection. This doesn’t even have to be a return to a book you’ve read a hundred times; it can be as simple as picking up a book written for people who may be slightly younger than you. However, a truly great young adult novel is meaningful to people of all ages. Such a book is Markus Zusak’s “I Am the Messenger.”
Many Whitties are familiar with Zusak’s most famous novel, “The Book Thief,” a truly weird and wonderful story about a young girl in Nazi Germany whose story is related to the reader by the Angel of Death. It’s less depressing than it sounds (but only just). However, mostly due to the fact that Zusak’s books are published in Australia and are relatively unheard of in the United States, very few are aware that this immensely talented young author has also published (among others) an equally moving novel about a down-and-out taxi driver named Ed Kennedy in modern-day Australia.
Ed’s story seems at first commonplace. Underprivileged and underage, he uses a fake I.D. to land himself a job as a taxi driver to pay his rent and feed his dog. He is hopelessly in love with (and hopelessly friend-zoned by) his best friend, Audrey. He habitually plays poker with his buddies. But things start getting slightly bizarre when Ed inadvertently prevents a bank robbery by an utterly inept criminal. Shortly after his accidental heroism, Ed receives an Ace of Diamonds in the mail. On it is a list of addresses and times. Curiosity piqued, he decides to check them out.
It quickly becomes clear that Ed has been singled out by an unknown entity to carry out a series of tasks ranging from stopping a recurring rape to bringing a smile to the face of a lonely old woman. However, as the book progresses, the tasks become more and more challenging, and they lead ever closer to home.
Absolutely full to the brim with a million beautiful moments, “I Am the Messenger” is a great book to refresh your perspective on life. Gripped as we are with heady dreams of changing the world, it can be hard for us to remember that some of the biggest differences we can make may seem to be the smallest. Even though it can be found in the Young Adult section of any bookstore, “I Am the Messenger” lives up to its title and carries a meaningful message to anyone who picks it up.