I Am the Messenger
By Markus Zusak
Published by Definitions / Random House
ISBN 978 1 909 53136 9
Ed Kennedy doesn't have much going for himself, and he knows it. He lives all alone in a shack in the rough part of town with his smelly old dog called the Doorman. He has a dead-end job working as a taxi-driver. He spends his spare time playing cards with his friends or arguing with his foul-mouthed mother. Ed is in love with Audrey, one of his card-playing friends, but she keeps him at a distance because she doesn't want to spoil their friendship.
Ed gets out of bed every morning with very low expectations, and the day just rolls by bringing little change or little motivation. To be stuck in a rut at 19 sometimes worries him, but there is nothing he can do about it.
Then one day things do change in a most unexpected and dramatic way. Ed is standing in line at the bank when an armed robber bursts in. Panic descends and in the confusion, Ed manages to get his hands on a gun and ends the heist. The police drag the thief away, and Ed becomes an instant hero.
One morning shortly after, something strange drops through Ed's letterbox at home. It's an ace of diamonds playing card with three addresses and three times scribbled on the front. Intrigued, Ed decides to investigate. Who lives at these addresses and why has he been given this information?
At the first address, Ed looks through the window and sees a man violently attacking a woman. Ed is naturally disturbed about this. At the second address, he watches a lonely old woman slowly preparing a cup of tea. At the third address, he comes across a shy young girl training to be a runner. How are these three random individuals connected?
Ed decides to infiltrate the lives of these people, investigate and change things for the better. Slowly, he transforms from being a likeable lout into a genuine hero, reaching out and affecting the lives of the people he has been directed to meet. Each time another playing card drops through his letterbox, Ed moves into the life of someone who needs help. But all the time, he wonders who is sending him the cards. Who has taken on the task of changing Ed's own life and future?
I Am the Messenger not only entertains and moves, but also changes perceptions and attitudes. The story Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief) tells is gripping and unforgettable, and the way he tells it is unsentimental and uncluttered.
Contains adult themes and strong language
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com