I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

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?

“Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.”

I really liked this book. It starts off innocuous enough, almost like a game. If you’ve seen the movie “Pay it forwards”, it’s kinda the same. There’s a plot and there’s a main character and there’s a slew of supporting characters and there’s a whole lot of good deeds – from buying ice cream to a tired mother to abandoning a wife beater at a top of a mountain. Some of the help given is light, some a lot heavier but all of them will make you smile a little.. I liked the story of the barefoot athlete and the one of the Christmas lights but I couldn’t remember all of them well so I decided to go to the beginning and make a list.

Ace of Diamonds

  • The gift of a missing husband and father to a battered and raped wife. Considering he drank most of the money he made, the financial hit hopefully won’t be that bad and they’ll be able to live more peacefully.
  • The gift of a lost love. Milla lost her lover over 50 years ago and the messenger gets to spend time with this lovely old woman and make her feel good. Her memory is failing here and there but she can still remember her Jimmy. “The only person there was an old woman who has no curtains on her windows. She was in there on her own, making her dinner and sitting there eating, and drinking tea. I think she ate a salad and some soup. And loneliness. She ate that, too… It kind of depressed me to think a human could be so lonely that she would comfort herself with the company of appliances that whistle, and sit alone to eat. Not that I’m much better…I eat my meals with a seventeen-year-old dog…You’d think we were husband and wife, the way we carry on. But still…”
  • The gift of “air” shoes. Sophie likes to run but she can never win against her peers. So the messenger suggests running like she runs every morning – barefeet. It will make her bloody by the time she finishes the race but even though she doesn’t win, she’s happy and gains the recognition she well deserves.

Ace of Clubs

  • The gift of giving to a giver. Buying ice cream for a single mother he witnesses buy ice cream for her children but not herself to prove her struggle is appreciated
  • The gift of a flock. Getting enough congregants to fill an empty church for a priest who eschews the good life of superchurches in order to actually amongst the poor to who he ministers.
  • The gift of light. Buying new Christmas lights for a family that decorates every year with broken ones. It’s about making them feel included and seen.

Ace of Spades:

  • The gift of insight into his mother’s personal life. This was a bit harsh as it places Ed in direct spotlight against the hate of his mother. We know now why she treated him badly and refused to give him even a warm word. She’d been seeing a man for a while, even before his father died and of all her children she was mostly disappointed in Ed because he took so much after his father. Was it the guilt eating away at her or the fact that she was disappointed that he didn’t seem to do much with his life other than become a cabbie, that we won’t know. But Ed grows a pair and stops taking everything to heart.

“Like I said, my father died about six months ago…He was a furniture deliverer. When he died they found him sitting on an old lounge chair still inside the truck. He was just sitting there, dead and relaxed. There was still so much to unpack, they said. They thought he was sitting in there bludging. His liver gave out.”

Ace of Hearts:

  • Being a true friend to Audrey and showing her love even though she has a revolving door of boyfriends
  • Being a true friend to Marv and helping him get together with his baby momma and stepping up as a father
  • Helping Rudy get his life back on track by aiding him with his job search.

https://iamthemassengerguide.weebly.com/book-quiz.html

The ending was a bit crappy for me at least. A stranger claims to have constructed everything which Ed has gone through. He claims to have committed horrible acts and disrupted multiple lives and even ensure Ed’s ineptitude as a cabbie—all for the sake of proving that if someone as useless as he could rise to the occasion, live beyond his capabilities and be a force for good in the world, then anybody could. He even wrote it all down…even the conversation that is taking place right there in his apartment.

I was like .. what? Is this a Supernatural episode where they find that God is the writer of the series?

Ed smiles, realizing that his role in all this craziness hasn’t been that of a messenger, but rather that he is the message. I nearly threw up a little in my mouth. The book was good if you ignore the last 30 pages or so which ruin everything.

The good parts: This book reflects on the nature of the human race and reveals secrets that can so easily be hidden behind closed doors. Zusak is brilliant at creating characters that are so realistic – physically and emotionally. The writing was good, even pretentious at parts (“The kitchen light is loud. It deafens me as I walk toward it.”) Really? But otherwise, it’s good to see some of the talent that made “The Book Thief” shine.

“…my voice is like a rumor. I’m not quite sure if it came out or not or if it’s true.”

The bad parts: the deus ex machina ending and the fact that he still gets together with Audrey even though she was so wishy-washy about him throughout the book.

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