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Cover image from goodreads.com

protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

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?

(Book synopsis from back cover)

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak was a book that I was interested in reading for a couple of different reasons. The first reason that I wanted to read this book is because about a year ago I read The Book Thief and I thoroughly enjoyed reading that book and the style of writing by Zusak because he took a different approach with his storytelling. Even with this unique approach, his story was still relatable to the audience and I wanted to see what I Am the Messenger brought to the readers.

While I enjoyed that The Book Thief was set during World War II (again going back to my enjoyment of historical fiction), I was glad that I Am the Messenger takes a more modern tone. I was glad of this because it relates back to my second reason for wanting to read this novel: this book is on the list of books that my students can choose from for the Independent Reading novels and I wanted to be able to answer their questions about the book.

In my opinion, by having this novel take a more modern tone, my students (being high schoolers) will be able to relate to it better. As my students go through the year and start to think about their own futures, I feel as though they will be able to relate to the challenges that Ed faces throughout the novel. My hope is that as they experience Ed going through his tasks, they too will become inspired to do such acts to help out others that they meet in their lives: strangers and friends alike. Zusak seems to speak to those young adults that will be reading his novel to have them examine their own lives and where they are going with them. I feel that his message that he presents through Ed is one that educators and teachers try to impart upon teenagers, but I feel that Zusak seems to present in in a way that young adults will just “get.”

What I also found interesting in I Am the Messenger, is that the voice taken in Zusak’s writing is a great representation of the young adult/teenage mind. There are times that he writes in short bursts – short passages and short sentences. At other times, the passages become longer and more detailed as Ed begins to focus in on things that are happening to and around him.

One thing I feel that readers might struggle with however is some of the slang and language that is used in the novel. My students in particular may not know some of the slang that is used, but I also believe that Zusak gives enough detail that readers should be able to discern the meanings through context clues. It is a fun way to experience other cultures from the comfort of one’s own home or room while reading.

Not wanting to give too much away (in case any of my students read this review trying to garner information), this is a great book for everyone to read, not just a young adult audience. I Am the Messenger holds a message that everyone can relate to, no matter what age they are or where they feel they are at in their lives. Zusak not only allows students (and all readers) to look at the choices that they make and how it affects others around them, but also the relationships they have with their friends and families. I highly recommend this book to everyone.