Friday, March 31, 2023

Book Review: I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Goodreads Overview:

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?

Jacque's Review:

This was another one of Preston's assigned readings for English class, which we both really enjoyed. I think Preston liked it because Ed was very relatable. He spoke and acted like a normal boy his age. He doesn't know what he wants to do and lacks ambition. He has all the potential in the world, but doesn't see how he can get out of the rut he is in. He also lacks self-esteem and confidence due to the poor parenting he received. His father was a drunk and passed away prior to the start of the book. His mother is constantly criticizing him and refers to him as "Dickhead Ed." Can you imagine why he feels the way he does and simply wants to fly under the radar?

Just when he thinks he is destined to live a life of mediocrity, the unthinkable happens. He is in the lobby of a bank when a robbery takes place. He instantly becomes a hero when he helps apprehend the thief. Shortly after that event, he receives the first playing card in the mail. He has to decipher the meaning and carry out the messages the sender has planned out for him. Some of them are very pleasant while others are more dangerous. With each message he delivers, you can see him changing. He begins to see that his life isn't predetermined. Fate vs. free will is a big component of this story. Nobody can change the cards they are dealt, but they can determine how to play them and impact the outcome. 

As part of the numerous assignments for this unit, Preston had to listen to a Ted Talk given by Zusak. I listened to it as well and found it to be very inspiring. He talks about how "every success he has had came wrapped in a gift box of failure." He also stated, "failure has given him a greater motivation to succeed the next time. It has given him the power to imagine his way around problems, and the courage to follow his own vision." You can see many of these elements and ideas in this book. Ed's ultimate success was not served to him on a silver platter but was built upon a lifetime of failures.

I would highly recommend this book to both teens and adults. Preston and I both gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, which is almost unheard of. This was funny, inspirational, educational, and entertaining, which is rare when it comes to assigned reading for school. If you are a high school English teacher, this is a excellent selection for young adult boys. I do not have any trouble making recommendations for teen girls, but boys are more challenging.

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