Review : I am The Messenger – Markus Zusak

iammessenger I picked this up because of the Author. I enjoyed his Book Thief immensely, so I wanted a repeat performance with a different story.

The story starts with a stick up in a bank, where four 19 year old friends happened to be – Ed Kennedy, Marv, Ritchie(Dave Sanchez) and Audrey. Ed ends up being a Hero at the end of this event as he ends up capturing the bank robber in a twist of events when the thief drops his gun and Ed takes charge of it. This event is the turning point of his aimless life. Soon after he gets a game card – The ace of diamonds with three addresses to deliver a message, or else. That was the start of his job as a Messenger. As he finishes the delivering the messages in each card, he gets another. A total of 12 messages to deliver and the gradual change that manifests in Ed as he delivers the messages is nice to watch. It felt like watching a child grow up, stand up for itself, move through life trusting itself more, being more of itself, gaining an insight that helps the child live a satisfying life. All within 360 odd pages of a book. That is a good deal.

Ed is the narrator of the story. He is an underachiever par excellence. He has a brother who does everything right and two sisters who have their own lives. All of them left the place they were born for better prospects except for Ed. He is in love with Audrey, who has friend zoned him. His friends Ritchie and Marv are very loyal and good to have as friends but there isn’t much growth between them or for themselves in their apathetic choice of lifestyles. Ritchie, is the typical, mask wearing person we all get to meet in our lives- the always jovial, nothing phases them, nothing bothers them, laid back outer vibe that hides a deep sense of loneliness and dissatisfaction with life. Marv, is the 9-5 kind of guy or at least that is what he shows himself to be- the go to work, save money, thrifty bordering on miserly, in love with his car. Ed and Audrey work as cab drivers for a taxi company with Ed having lied about his age to get the job. Ed’s father has passed and the only legacy that was left to Ed was his father’s old and stinky dog, The Doorman. His mother was a lady(not sure if I should call her that) with a foul mouth, who couldn’t finish any conversation with Ed, without punctuating it with profanity. She was deeply disappointed in Ed as he resembled his father and she felt he could do more. She was verbally very abusive to Ed, yet Ed had unfinished business with her. Or maybe the fact that she is his mother made it difficult for him to find his way out of that relationship.

Each of the messages that Ed is compelled to deliver changes the life of the receiver of the message, and the giver. Each of the messages helps Ed see that life is more about Love, about giving, about helping, doing what you can under the circumstances. Each time he delivers the message, he becomes less timid, more purposeful with his life, more thoughtful of what he is doing.

I was specially touched the way he handles each of the messages, even when the results weren’t as he wanted. There is Milla, the old lady who is still waiting for her beau. There is a beauty in the way he pretends to be Her long lost Love. Sophie, the young barefooted athlete, specially touching was the gift he gave her. The Family of Tatupu and Carusso, their gifts were so simple, yet so loving. As he delivers the messages, he gathers courage enough to confront his own demons.  His perception of his mother and the relationship he has with her, changes.

The story gives a message of hope to the reader, that if a person like Ed could Get Up when he was down, do the things that he did, that are way beyond what he could ever imagine, then maybe anyone could. You don’t have to be a special someone, a famous someone or a wealthy someone to connect with people, to reach out, do the needful, be there, send a message of love and of care, of understanding the human need to touch and be touched in our hearts.

I have to say, that I wouldn’t put this book in the hands of anyone who is younger than 16 years old. Maybe that is a little prudish of me but I really don’t think someone younger than that age really understands the nuances and implications involved in Adult relationships – sex, rape and foul language.

The premise of 19-20 year olds, wandering aimlessly in life is believable but the plot of how to get them to have a purpose in life was unbelievable. I liked the message he was trying to deliver though I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. Like as if, he was forced to end the book due to a deadline. It is light reading. Nothing too deep, A simple message with a beautiful story.

Overall I give a 4/5.

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