Book Review: I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

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She let herself love me for three minutes.

Can three minutes last forever? I ask myself, but already I know the answer.

Probably not, I reply. But maybe they last long enough.

Ed Kennedy is a 19 year old cabdriver, living a completely ordinary and unremarkable life, until he stops a bank robber. Soon after he’s sent a single playing card in the mail, an ace, and on it is written three addresses. Just like that, Ed’s life is transformed in small and large ways.

It’s hard for me to gather my thoughts about this book. For the first quarter of the book I didn’t really like it very much. Ed and his friends were kind of annoying and the whole messenger aspect seemed contrived. I also couldn’t help but compare it to The Book Thief, another of Zusak’s books, which had hooked me immediately from the beginning. But I kept reading and slowly the characters started to flesh out. I really liked the recipients of Ed’s messages and most of his interactions with them. At first I thought that wasn’t very realistic that all of these people would just welcome Ed into their lives, especially when he was behaving like a stalker. But I guess there’s always a point in life where we just need something or someone. And Ed was sent to those people at precisely that moment.

By far my favorite part of the book was when Ed was sent to his friends. They came last in the order of Ed’s messages and it was brilliant of Zusak to structure the book this way. He took these characters who were on the periphery of Ed’s story and slowly showed us readers that they are real people. The most beautiful moment in the book for me was Ed and Audrey’s three minute dance. I don’t want to describe it because I can’t do justice to it but it’s truly one of the most touching scenes of any book that I read in awhile.

I’m not going to compare it to The Book Thief because they’re such vastly different stories. But I think Zusak’s writing was just as on point here as it was in The Book Thief. He truly has a mastery of character development and a talent for showing the extraordinary capabilities of seemingly ordinary people. It’s funny how this book, not unlike Ed, seemed so ordinary in the beginning but turned out to be really powerful in the end. It’s a testament to Zusak’s writing and his ability to craft his characters and makes me really glad that I read this book.

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