I AM THE MESSENGER
Reviewed by Eden
357 pages// 484 PHP// Us Version -text copyright 2002 and winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. The Messenger was released in the United States under the name I am the Messenger.
Local Deadbeat Makes Good
Markus Zusak was born in Australia from a German and Austrian decent. He began writing for young adult readers and has received a couple of awards, Edwards Award being the most notable so far which he received in 2014. Being a witty storyteller, he has a knack of making sure that whoever is reading his book will not stop until the very end.
The book in its unpretentious form may try to tackle a few issues that could narrow it in an unfitting context, but if one would look at the over all theme of the story, it is about looking at failures in a different way.
Purpose and Thesis
Purpose- To tell everyone that whoever you are, you can.
Markus who may not be aware but seems to be always targeting the world of young adult readers, wrote the book to give each and every teenage boys and girls a harmless nudge. He seems to be saying that you don’t have to be someone special to be able to do great things.
Theme- Using failure to make success out of life.
Thesis- Failures should not be seen as hindrances.
On an interview with that I found online (motherdaughterbookclub.com) , this was what he said when asked why he writes:
“There are two magic acts I want to pull off when I write. One is creating a feeling that when you’re inside a book, you believe everything you’re reading even when you know it’s not true. And the second is an extension of that, which is you know it’s not true, you know it’s not real, but you believe it anyway. And it’s that believing of the story that isn’t real that attracted me to writing and storytelling in general.”
I am the Messenger is a story of an average teenage boy , Ed ,who is not yet in legal age to actually be accepted as a cab driver but got the job anyway. There is nothing extraordinary to be expected from his day other than playing cards with his friends Marv, Audrey and Ritchie, having coffee with his dog called Doorman and taking directions from strangers who may or may not pay the cab fare. When at some point he was able to miraculously stop a robbery, Ed became a hero. Then, the aces start coming in. The first one is the ace of diamond. Three addresses are written on it. He could have ignored what could be a potential prank devised by the thief. But he received the first ace when the thief is still serving his time on jail. Three more aces follow after he pays each addresses a visit, the clubs, the spades and the hearts respectively. He continues going on about accomplishing all tasks in each aces because he feels that this is his mission. Up until the moment that he received the last card which is the Joker is the truth revealed to him by a mysterious man.
Trace of Arguments
On the same interview I found on (motherdaughterbookclub.com) , Markus said that he sees a lot of himself in Ed.
“I think I was a lot like Ed. I lacked confidence severely for a long time, and that was a fundamental part of Ed’s character. Underneath it all I wanted Ed to be like a superhero, but without superhero powers. I think that’s when you find out who you really are. What if you had to do amazing things and you had to reach into your humanness for that? That’s what Ed is doing in that book.”- MArkus Zusak
Not more than once did Markus Zusak call himself as a failurist. But he also mentioned that most of his successes came from the failures coping up with another failure. Cool.
Snippets from the book that support thesis:
-Then there’s Ed Kennedy, also nineteen. . . .Just prior to the bank holdup, I’d been taking stock of my life. Cabdriver—- and I’d funked my age at that. (you need to be twenty.) No real career. No respect in the community. Nothing. (p.15)
-I’d realize there were people everywhere achieving greatness while I was taking directions from balding businessmen called Derek and being wary of Friday-night drunks who might throw up in my cab or do a runner on me. (p.15)
-Constantly , I’m asking myself, Well Ed—what have you really achieved in nineteen years? The answer’s simple. Jack shit. (p.16)
-You—she points at me with venom—you could be as good as any of them. as good as Tommy even. . .But you’re still here and you’ll still be here in fifty years. And you’ll have achieved nothing. (pgs.244-245)
– I did it because you’re the epitome of ordinariness, Ed. And if a guy like you can stand up and do whatever you did, then maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of. Maybe even I can. (p.353)
-I’m not the messenger at all. I’m the message. (p.357)
In writing this, the author wants us to realize that if it takes an ordinary guy like Ed to step up from his game, then any person will and can be able to come out of his comfort zone to do something incredible. My only problem is that even if it is written in a way for readers to understand that doing what Ed did is attainable, some of the stuff that he has dealt with are too easy peasy. If the author is trying to be realistic, he should also include some people who may see the good in Ed’s purpose but still is reluctant to accept help because of some inner doubts (I don’t know if you could have outer doubts so that sucks). There would always be one person who will doubt humanity. So if a guy like Ed comes along to offer help, the author could have written about a girl who’s scared to trust him right away or about a man who got mad and called him a fraud. In that way, we can see the protagonist trying again. Harder if needs be. After all, Ed already knows he is a failure. If he encounters someone who does not see the good in what he is about to do, this gives him a challenge that would somehow help in making strong whatever potential he knows he already has.