I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak [Independent Reading]

I have found I am the Messenger to be more captivating and interesting as compared to Zusak’s other work, The Book Thief. Zusak’s voice and style in I am the Messenger is less fragmented and easier to understand. Also, the plot is easier to follow. If it weren’t for his name on the cover, I would not have guessed that the two books were by the same author. The writing in I am the Messenger is looser, with more characterization and connects to the reader better. Ed Kennedy’s escapades seem much more real, and this part ends at such a cliffhanger, with the murder! The purpose of the cards is a complete mystery, but due to foreshadowing, I believe they signify and leave to Ed’s greater purpose than being a taxi driver. Instead of being a worthless, uneducated taxi driver, Ed is a hero when carrying out the tasks on the card. I predict that the cards will bring him misfortune and danger, but they are also a source of entertainment and motivate Ed. It would be smart of Ed be honest and confess to his friends about the cards and his ensuing adventures. I also found Sophie’s track races to be analogous to the allusion of Jesse Owens in The Book Thief. Additionally, I agree with Ed’s thought that “Insomnia must kill people” (Zusak 82).
By Casey Lum

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26 responses to “I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak [Independent Reading]

  1. So far, I too have found IATM to be more intriguing than The Book Thief, Casey! While The Book Thief has the narrator Death jutting in every couple pages and interrupting the flow of the story with a random observation, IATM remains steadily in Ed Kennedy’s point of view, letting the reader stay focused and in tune with the character. This allows the plot to be smoother and easier to follow. We can clearly see that this book has four sections; each card of aces will most likely take up a section, with three addresses on each card. In this way, the novel is spilt up into twelve different short stories, with each story separate and fragmented from the rest, though it’s foreshadowed that at the end these places will all connect in some way. It becomes such that one can dip into one section or another, from Edgar Street to Harrison Ave, without as much confusion that if the plot remained on one topic. Milla is totally separate from Angelina who is totally separate from Sophie. They never interact with one another, and Ed keeps his relationships disconnected from each other. Like a small collection of poems, this book is beautiful and captivating in its fluctuation, but able to clearly detach apart.
    Also, soon we see that as the messenger, Ed starts to portray different masks as needed for different messages. Because his main goal is to adapt and change his approach to do whatever necessary to deliver the message, his personality also changes and we see drastically different aspects of his character. After Ed drags the rapist out of the car, he points the gun at him and yells, “This’ll go straight through your spine…and then I’ll leave you here. I’ll call your wife and kid and they can come and look at you. They can dance around you…Or should I put this through your skull” (88). Just a while ago Ed was calmly reading Wuthering Heights with Milla while pretending to be her dead husband Jimmy, and now he’s suddenly a murderer? Clearly whoever sent the cards did not put much thought in how much the severe changes Ed goes through will affect his emotional stability. In taking in the pain and hardships of others, Ed is forced to reconsider his own standings, and turns from a passive taxi driver to someone able to take an active stand in the lives of others. But this process causes him great confusion and suffering as he tries to become the messenger.
    -Star Liu
    p.s. This book was so amazingly good I may have accidently finished it already… =)

  2. Bridget Myers

    Although I have been enjoying Markus Zusak’s novel, “I am the Messenger,” I am going to have to disagree with both of you and say that I prefer his other work, “The Book Thief.” “The Book Thief,” in my opinion is clearly a more eloquently written novel with much more depth, suspense, emotion, and complex characterization, whereas IATM is simply a casual diary from Ed’s perspective. Because his style as a character is easygoing and laid back, the author’s tone comes off as informal and “loose,” as Casey said. TBT is far more detailed and serious. The pieces are quite different, and like Casey said, I would not have guessed that they were written by the same author if I did not see Markus Zusak’s name on the cover. Despite my previous comment of how “The Book Thief” is a better read than “I am the Messenger,” IATM is still enjoyable. As I have not been caught up in the beauty of the novel (YET) as Crystal has, I have only finished part one and am therefore not a good judge of its quality.
    As for IATM’s content, I feel in the dark about who the benefactor of the cards is. Even if we never find out who it is, it is clear that they were sent for a reason. That being to possibly better Ed’s self-image and motivate him to become more than the lazy cab driver he is now. Whoever is sending the cards knows that Ed is more than the man he thinks himself capable of becoming. Ed describes this when Zusak writes:
    “I cook.
    I eat.
    I wash but rarely iron.
    I live in the past and believe that Cindy Crawford is by far the best supermodel.
    That’s my life.” (Zusak 20)
    It is exemplified here that Ed thinks of himself as a failure in life who has no future aside from his life as it is now. I think the card giver sees this and hopes Ed will realize that he has the potential to do great things and contribute to society in positive ways. As the reader, I also see this in Ed and predict that he will begin to believe it as well, eventually.

  3. Gabriella Metelits

    What annoys me while I’m reading any novel is usually the first few pages. Quite often I find that an author is compiling a huge and redundant list of characters, settings and the plot and after cramming it together into sentence form calls it a chapter. What Zusak did with the bank robbery scene (and I really enjoyed it) was explain what the characters were like and what was going to happen without making it seem pointless. I actually got to know meet the characters through the bank robbery scene— the bank robbery scene didn’t just include them.

    That being said, what I like most about part one of IATM is Zusak’s ability to portray Ed Kennedy in a way that made him relatable to me. I usually root for the main character of whatever book I’m reading, but Ed wasn’t just likeable—he was a real but unlikely hero. The best example of this is in the beginning when the bank robber comes up to Marv and Ed, he asks “Which one of you is Ed?”. A fairytale hero would bravely point to himself (and maybe challenge the gunman to a duel). Ed automatically does what I would probably do: points to Marv as the guilty man. His first impulse isn’t to save others like a fairytale hero would. When the robber tries to get away and drops his gun, however, Ed heroically picks up the gun and shoots the windshield of Marv’s car. In a way, Ed doesn’t do this on purpose: it happens in a dreamlike state for him. But a little part inside of Ed had to have pushed him into chasing the robber or else he wouldn’t have at all.

    Although Ed’s environment hindered him from helping others before, I think that the card sender realizes Ed’s potential and is trying to bring out the hero that lives inside of him. I’m sure we’ll only find out who sent the card at the end, but I think it might have been the bank robber. Who agrees with me?

  4. zany503

    While reading “I Am the Messenger”, by Markus Zusak, two things immediately stand out. One, characters are easy to understand and are relatable, and two, the writing style of the author is different than some other works. Ed narrates the story in such a fashion that makes it easy to understand and focus. “I Am the Messenger” while intriguing, is simplistic and black and white. While I enjoy reading it, I don’t find that the writing has range. It does not seem suspenseful and I found it predictable. There is nothing wrong with this, but it made it easy to read, and finish. This is not to say I did not enjoy this book thoroughly. The characters were understandable and I could find connections between my life and theirs which is not possible through other books. By having this flow in his writing, the author has successfully made real life people into typical storybook characters. Ed could come straight out of reality. For example, he says, “It makes me think of my life, my nonexistent accomplishments and my overall abilities in incompetence” (Zusak 39). He is not capable of anything he is being made to do, until the bank robbery and the first card is received. Ed, an ordinary person, has suddenly become a hero. What this says is that anyone else can become the same hero, too.
    I, too, agree with Bridget about the comparison between “I Am the Messenger” and “The Book Thief”. To begin, “I Am the Messenger” is not what I expected. I thought it would be like “The Book Thief” so it did catch me by surprise. But that made the book all the more interesting and likeable. But, I think “The Book Thief” has more depth and it is a book that can change and inspire the reader. I have not been changed or inspired through “I Am the Messenger”.

  5. I disagree with Casey’s initial comment: though so far I have loved “I Am the Messenger”, I thought that The Book Thief was much more touching and even a little poetic. Bridget, I completely agree with what you said, I feel like the casual tone of “IATM” causes it to seem like the whole book is simply a diary rather than a full-blown, emotional storyline. Samantha, I agree with you as well in that “The Book Thief” left me feeling incredibly emotional whereas “IATM”, while a thoroughly enjoyable book, has not done the same to me.
    In “IATM”, I really enjoy that Ed Kennedy lives such a different life than we do because it gives me a great deal of perspective as to how much more courage he must have possessed in order to take down the man from Edgar Street. Additionally, I find his relationship with Audrey quite fascinating because it does not seem predictable at all. While in most books I would expect the female counterpart (Audrey) to be exhibiting signs of love towards the hero (Ed), Audrey has shown utter disinterest in having a romantic relationship with Ed, and I feel that this ‘romance’ storyline adds a whole other dimension to the book.
    My only qualm about this book is how Ed seems to magically know what he is meant to do when he receives the playing cards. As I was reading it, I remember thinking, “Ok, if I was him right now, I’d be running away and trying to forget what I saw.” The last thing on my mind would be to take on the man on my own. All that the book explains is, “It’s like I’ve been chosen. But chosen for what? I ask. The answer’s quite simple: To care.” (Zusak 41-42).
    One last note, Gabriella, I reread that part after reading what you wrote and I think that the bank robber could easily be the man behind the cards.

  6. I am the Messenger may not have the beautifully eloquent passages that The Book Thief has, but I believe it does has the ability to connect with the reader in other ways. There’s the crude language and profanity, which doesn’t make us weep with emotion but exposes the harsh facts of everyday life. I’ve also noticed that TBT has multiple fragmented sentences or words that sometimes act as one paragraph, like “Silence.” (117) or “Swollen jaw.” (180) or even “Beer” (152). As I flip through the book, tons more of these little choppy phrases start popping up, scattered in between dialogue. As I mentioned in my first post, Zusak’s work nearly becomes poetry with all of these line breaks, and focusing on certain words makes the reader pay closer attention to them, helps identify more clearly what is important, and allows the reader to connect with the passage through simple ideas and thoughts that are easily relatable with everyone. When I see that word beer, I think of happiness, renewal, hope, and everything else that the free beer brought to Father O’Reilly’s church. So sure, maybe this book is just a diary from some cab driver’s perspective. He doesn’t write in fancy vocabulary and is pretty disjointed (I counted five line dividers in 15 pages), as we can see from this passage:
    “I begin…waiting.
    For what?
    For her.
    But she doesn’t come…
    Just Ed walks on…
    But he trips.” (115-116).
    But this does not mean the book is boring. Quite the opposite, because we can connect with this Just Ed, agonize together that maybe we’ll never amount to anything, and the feeling of always being just short of our dreams. While this novel doesn’t have the same glory as hiding a Jew in your basement during WWII, it takes the simplistic wants in all of us and exemplifies them through this whiny and lazy city cab driver Ed Kennedy. Like Gabriella said, Ed isn’t our typical fairytale hero, and we can’t expect the story to be written as if he was. Ed is just a regular guy (come on, his name is Ed) that has this responsibility thrust on him. He doesn’t want the attention, the fighting, the helping others and everything else that comes along with having greatness thrust on you. As mentioned, I agree that because of this it is especially unrealistic that Ed would not immediately run away at being presented with the cards, but now halfway through the book we can see the hero slowly emerge from inside him.
    Hosting a barbeque and buying a lady an ice cream cone may not seem like much, but soon it’s clear that Ed does most of his magic through the little things. Ed doesn’t sit down with everyone on his cards and give them a lecture on life and hope; he is supposed to represent the average guy, and that would be much too awkward for the average guy to handle. So as most of us do, Ed expresses his compassion and caring through wordless acts, showing the person that they are paying attention to them, and it is this method of solving problems that works best. I hate to say this because it’s so cliché, but our actions really do speak louder than our words, and there are certain times where talking would harm the situation.
    So as told by the last sentence in this section, Ed’s next challenge is the ace of clubs. When I think of clubs I think of heavy objects like golf clubs that would hurt if you whacked someone with it. As the next section is called “Part Three: Trying Times for Ed Kennedy” it’s foreshadowed that Ed will have great difficulty with this card. What could be more difficult than watching a man rape his wife each night and getting beaten up by a gang of teenage thugs? I suppose we are about to see.
    -Crystal Liu
    P.S. Apparently “Edward” means “wealth” or “prosperous” in Old English. What beautiful irony.

  7. I still uphold that “I am the Messenger” is more engaging than “The Book Thief”. I have found it to be more captivating with a more interesting plot line. I found “The Book Thief” to be hard to decipher, and I much more enjoy the simplicity found in “I am the Messenger”. Crystal, I found your anecdote that “ ‘Edward’ means ‘wealth’ or ‘prosperous’ in Old English” to be very funny. Perhaps it foreshadows Ed’s future or references wealth or prosperity in another form. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. I have found a beauty in Zusak’s writing style, utilizing figurative language and imagery to make it almost poetic,
    “You can kill a man with those words.
    No gun
    No bullets.
    Just words and a girl.” (Zusak 120).
    The graceful words help to brighten a dark novel, bringing a sense of optimism.
    On another unrelated topic, I believe that the cards are Ed’s path out of his misery. They give him a chance to be brave, to be a hero in a world where everything and everyone has brought him down and pitied him. Through these past two sections, I have come to this conclusion and believe that it will become clearer as the book progresses. The cards give Ed a purpose, and they impassion him into action. He stands up for what he believes and fights for what he loves, which I assume he has not done before. I agree with how Crystal puts it, “Ed expresses his compassion and caring through wordless acts”.
    And I admit, I as well may have finished the book already 🙂

  8. Gabriella Metelits

    Ed might not be person full of materialistic riches but I still believe that Ed is wealthy in other ways: he has begun to find prosperity in life because of the cards. I read once that there are nine areas in life that a person needs to fulfilled or prosperous: giving, relating to others, exercising in some way, appreciating life, finding meaning, trying out new things, having resilience to tough times, feeling emotions, and loving (and being loved). Through every mission he…
    • Gives something that people truly need: like an ice cream for Angie
    • Relates to people: father O’Reilly and his down to earth personality
    • Exercises: chasing after the runner who wouldn’t pay the $27.50 was a real workout!
    • Appreciates life: (he is grateful for his tiny shack and his dog
    • Finds meaning in life: he has found happiness in helping people and realizes that simple things can a difference
    • Tries out new things: helping the people listed on the cards wasn’t something he would have done before
    • Has resilience to tough times: going on even though his father died, his mother hates him and his younger brother got the best
    • Feeling emotions: after shooting the gun Ed says, “There’s a feeling in me that resembles complete and utter desolation. It trips through me. No. It zigzags” (Zusak 95).
    Giving and receiving love: Ed hasn’t received a lot of love from those who are closest to him yet, and it’s clear that this is the reason why he is unhappy. Obviously, he wishes that Audrey will love him back and she is on his mind all the time, but the person whom he wishes would care more is his mom. When he tells her how he hasn’t done much in his life she responds, “Ohhh, why don’t you have a bloody cry, Ed” (Zusak 16). Every time Ma talks to Ed (usually on the phone, not in person), she has nothing nice to say. She tells him he has no taste in coffee tables, constantly compares him to his younger brother (and berates him for failing in life), calls him names and in general makes him feel miserable.
    Although as a reader I’m not supposed to like Ma, I can still understand her angry disposition. She lives in a crappy town, had a husband that drank all the money away and had no way of giving her children anything worthwhile. Then she sees that her younger son has achieved much more than Ed under the same circumstances and Ed becomes the worthless runt. I think Ma is most upset that Ed is following the life that she has and the only thing she can think of to get his attention is to make him feel worthless. I’m sure that a card will be coming up where Ed sees a softer side of his mother. Maybe she will make up with him and maybe not, but I’ sure that Ed will feel closer to his her nonetheless.
    One question I have is about the card that says the stones of home. What does that mean? A physical home could be the church, but I have a feeling it means more. Is it family? I know that whenever you’re with family you’re at home. If so, what do the stones represent then? The parts of home? The friends and family that represent home? I can see how Gavin Rose and Father O’Reily could represent family, but how about Angie?

  9. bemyers4

    By Bridget Myers
    Now that I have been able to devour more of Zusak’s work, I am the Messenger, I have an increased amount of affection for it. No longer do I see it as far inferior to TBT. I do not mean to say that I prefer it to TBT, but I am beginning to love it as much as others do. I am now seeing the beauty in the simplistic language and descriptions and now understand the author’s purpose in doing this. Like Crystal said, Ed is an average guy and it would be out of character if the novel was written with a formal tone. At the end of the first section I was not completely in love with the author’s writing style, but having come to the end of section two, I see the intention, making the book far more relatable and realistic. I like Casey’s selection of quote proving this point and I agree with her commentary about it. The novel’s simplicity makes it poetic and, as Casey said, “[adds] a sense of optimism.”
    Switching back to a topic Crystal touched on, I’d like to address the evident theme in the novel: Kindness. It is most likely one of the most incorporated ideas throughout the book, illustrating its importance to the story’s overall message and meaning. Ed’s small acts of kindness towards the “card people” are only the first steps in the process of building a chain of kindness. It is not yet clear what the exact purpose of the cards is, but I can hypothesize that it has something to do with kindness. Such an act as the ones Ed shows is only the first runner in a relay race for compassion. Ed then passes the baton of kindness on to the next runner and so on. This idea of a chain of kindness is exemplified when Ed buys Angie an ice cream in the park: “She thanks me a few times more, but the best words I hear all day come to me right when I think it’s over. It’s the girl, Casey. She twists herself onto Angie’s hand and says, “Next week I’ll give you a bite of mine, Mum” (173). In these few, simple words the author demonstrates this central theme of kindness without over-cluttering the idea with description. Because of Zusak’s simple use of language, his main themes and ideas are easily deciphered by the reader, allowing for a broader understanding of the book.
    These acts of kindness by Ed may be forced at first, but they cause him to grow as a character and by the end of the novel maybe they will become a part of him.

  10. Continuing through the book, I have found that I slightly prefer this side of Zusak’s writing compared to The Book Thief. It is much easier to read and as several people said before, it carries the voice of an underage cab driver a great deal more aptly than the voice of the narrator in The Book Thief. Like in The Book Thief, Zusak seems to enjoy making the reader beg for more information, giving only bits and pieces away of the ending that leaves the reader hanging. The suspense was killing me so much that I just had to finish the novel as well.
    In this section, Ed has certainly transformed into a more courageous, self-certain man over the course of the last section. As Crystal mentioned, he is turning into a hero, but I find it a little strange that this status of a hero comes with a large amount of violence. With the way he described himself, I would guess that Ed was not a very violent person before he began receiving the cards, but now he doesn’t seem to have a problem with beating up anyone who comes in his way. That being said, I find it even stranger that the theme of kindness is emerging throughout the novel. I completely agree with Bridget that this is an important concept in the novel, yet the coexistence of kindness and violence within a single person is slightly hard for me to understand.
    How can a man who is attempting to better the lives of others do so while being so uncharacteristically brutal?

  11. zany503

    In the second section of “I Am the Messenger” by Markus Zusak, I could see the character development in Ed. We can observe the main character, Ed, become accustomed to his job and come to terms with what he has to do. Ed begins to enjoy the meaning behind his tasks and how it impacts others’ lives. It is influential on his own life, as he can now realize what kind of person he is and who he will become. However, he still struggles with the concept of why he was chosen to do the precarious tasks set before him. Although he doesn’t understand, he does his job with more willpower and courage than he had before. He is not afraid to take a stand, and will do whatever it takes to help someone or teach them a lesson.
    The violent side of Ed reveals more about his courage and persona than the introduction of the book. In the first section, Ed portrayed himself as a wimpy nobody who did not have a place in the world and was not good for anything. Now, Ed is someone who will not be afraid to do any task. While he may approach the cards with trepidation, he cannot simply stop following the cards direction. The cards lead him to do some hard tasks, but it uncovers more and more of Ed’s true identity. As the hero emerges, Ed’s confidence grows, and the impact Ed has on others’ lives becomes more apparent, it becomes harder to compare this book to “The Book Thief”.
    It is safe to say that TBT and IATM are too different books with different messages. TBT is more emotional and is written about a historical period of time which is hard to read about and understand. IATM is easier to read, and the reader can connect more to Ed and what he is going through. I am sure no one here can imagine themselves doing what Ed has done so far into the story.
    -Samantha A2

  12. I’m going to try my best to answer Gabriella’s questions about the stones of home. To review, the stones of home are a group of rocks upstream along a river that flows near the bottom of Main Street. They are unable to be seen from the road and are surrounded by wild brush and long grass. The stones of home could mean various things, but I believe they were placed in the story to show us exactly how Ed Kennedy became who he is. While chasing the guy who jumped his cab, Ed explains that he used to fish and race with his brother Tommy, “the one in the city with better prospects and better taste in coffee tables than me. He was faster, of course …It was shameful to have a younger brother who was faster, stronger, smarter, and better. At everything. But he was. It was that simple” (131). Ed grew up always in last place, one step behind his superior siblings, never able to live up to their glory. Isn’t it easy to imagine how he could have become such a mediocre adult with little self-esteem? With his childhood, Ed was never truly given the opportunity to let his talents shine, or make anything of himself because his brother and sister always came first. These stones of home are where Tommy continuously beat Ed at everything. They show where Ed came from and why he is the way he is. With the obscure location, the stones have barely changed at all, and Ed is “still chasing someone faster, stronger, and better” (131). They’re the roots of Ed’s childhood, the place that started his string of miserable defeats and beginnings of his pathetic career.
    But, hallejulah, we have begun to see the hero emerge in Ed! I’m glad to see you all agreeing on this, and as Audrey so eloquently puts it: “You’ve become different since all this started…You used to just be…Now you’re somebody, Ed…You’re better” (231-232). Clearly, Ed is an extremely dynamic character, and is becoming quite the superman in his own right. Ed is even starting to expect and anticipate the cards before they come, stating: “This time I want it to be fast. I want the card right now. No obscurity. No riddles. Just give me the addresses. Give me the names and send me there. That’s what I want” (184). This guy is starting to get familiar and almost comfortable with his job. But what do you guys think will happen to Ed after he finishes the last card, the card of hearts? How will his time as a messenger change him?
    Star Liu 😀
    p.s. I am ashamed to admit that, like Ed, the only author I recognized was Sylvia Plath…

  13. Gabriella Metelits

    Every time Ed completes a mission, he has some sort of revelation. During book three, he discovers why his mom hates him so much and that he might possibly have a chance with Audrey. For me, the revelation that describes all his missions is on page 221: “This isn’t about words. It’s about glowing lights and small things that are big.” Along with Ed, we can understand more and more about why he is given the cards and their meaning (and life’s meaning). It’s true that on the surface Ed isn’t much. He’s still a poor cabdriver that hasn’t succeeded at anything in life (at least in his Mom’s eyes). However we know that Ed is doing something different, something extraordinary for people, that changes him. Maybe why he isn’t so upset at his mom for calling him a looser at the porch (I think) is because he knows he isn’t a looser anymore. Through the cards, he is beginning to find a direction in life.
    In some ways, the cards were more for him than others.
    Questions on my mind: Bernie seems to know about the cards more than the other people that Ed has helped. Why is he different? Does he also receive cards? Keith and Daryl and the “runner” are on missions as well where they deliver cards/messages. Are they in the dark about the card sender as well? Do you think Ma would be more understanding of Ed after learning about the cards and what he is doing? Would her opinion of him change?

    P.S. Star
    I was only able to recognize Sylvia Plath as a writer as well. Did we read any of her work at the junior high? I forget…

  14. bemyers4

    While reading the third section of I am the Messenger, I found importance in the same phrase Gabriella did: “It’s about glowing lights and small things that are big” (Zusak 221). This idea is present throughout the entire novel, though especially in this section. As the messenger, Ed completes small tasks that make a large impact on others’ lives and on his own. And it is in these moments that Ed understands the meaning of his life and its significance. He does not see himself as a poor cabdriver with no purpose in life in these instances, but instead realizes his intention in life. It is as though these acts define his character and make him into the man he has become. In saying this though, it should be noted that to one person, this change seems undesirable. It is Audrey that notes how Ed’s job as messenger has shaped him into a new person. She describes, while sitting with Ed at his house, “‘I feel like you’re slipping away somehow. You’ve become different since all this started’” (Zusak 231). Audrey feels that Ed will leave her behind in the glory of his heroic acts and she will simply be a Nobody that Ed will no longer love. She knows that all this is helping Ed become something more than what is expected of him, but that when he reaches a point of superiority, he won’t be there for her anymore. To Audrey, Ed is a safety net that looms under her. She continues flying above Ed, as she knows he will always be there, no matter what. Though it seemed this way to Audrey in the past, it is evident that Ed is no longer inferior to Audrey, in constant need of her approval. She now questions her position, when Zusak writes:
    She concludes. “You’re better.”
    It’s with those words that I see things from Audrey’s perspective. She liked me being JUST ED. It was safer that way. Stable. Now I’ve changed things. I’ve left my own fingerprints on the world, no matter how small, and it’s upset the equilibrium of us—Audrey and me. Maybe she’s afraid that if I can’t have her, I won’t want her.
    Like this.
    Like we used to be.
    She doesn’t want to love me, but she doesn’t want to lose me either. (Zusak 232)
    This last line sums up perfectly what Audrey is thinking. She wants to keep Ed available to her, but does not want to love him.
    In my opinion, this seems unfair to Ed. She knows that he loves her, but refuses to love him back. She merely wants to keep him to herself, as a safety net to fall into if need be. It confuses me why Ed doesn’t just give up on her and find someone who can love him back the way he loves Audrey. Why does he put himself through this? And more importantly, why does Audrey do this to him? Why doesn’t she set him free to find someone else to love?

  15. I agree with Gabriella that Ed “appreciates life”. In this section, it has become especially clear to me that through these missions, Ed is able to realize how much he has to be grateful for, and how there are people in deeper misfortune then himself. Zusak does a great job of giving not only Ed, but the reader a perspective on how fortunate we are. I really enjoyed this characteristic of Zusak’s writing that is found in both “I am the Messenger” and “The Book Thief”. His honest portrayal of despair makes one more open to the beauties of the world they live in.
    I, like Star, Gabriella, and Ed, only recognized Sylvia Plath’s name on the list of authors. I am in the midst of reading “The Bell Jar”.
    I agree with Bridget that through the line “She doesn’t want to love me, but she doesn’t want to lose me either” Zusak captures Audrey’s delicate wish for her relationship with Ed. It is unfair to Ed that he’s been “friend zoned”, so to speak. Will the two ever be romantically connected?
    I agree with Gabriella that the cards give him a direction in life. They give Ed, a dreamy cabdriver, a reason to live, a purpose in life, and a worth to others.
    ~Casey

  16. It seems that in this section, everyone is most preoccupied in Ed and Audrey’s relationship. Who doesn’t love a good love story? I found that there were two crucial moments in this section that defined their new relationship following Ed’s changes. Firstly, after they decided to get drunk one night, Audrey asks, “’Do you hate me, Ed?’…I answer. Very seriously. ‘Yes,’ I whisper. ‘I do.’…Audrey whispers, ‘I don’t blame you.’” (233)
    It sounded a little like most of you were a little upset with Audrey for wanting to keep Ed around without wanting to ever love him. However, like Ed, I think that Audrey is afraid to love Ed in that way and would much rather love him like a friend, for that is what she feels is best for him. Of course, as the passage shows, she feels bad for acting like that, and she might even hate herself a little bit for hurting Ed like that. Nonetheless, if she was to love Ed, chances are they would both end up getting hurt and Audrey would lose her friendship with him, something she clearly holds very important.
    While Audrey and Ed’s relationship was by far the most interesting component of this section, I think that Ed’s maturation was largely revealed through his observations of those he helped. Upon seeing their kids full of joy at Ed’s present of Christmas lights, Lua and Marie kiss, a beautiful show of emotion, and Ed observes, “Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are” (224). Though his descriptions of Audrey, it is clear that Ed is largely attracted to her because of her looks. However, after helping all of his card people with their problems, he notices that what people simply are inside might be more important than what they look like or what they say. In this revelation, Ed displays his newfound maturity.

  17. You ladies have convinced me to read this book. I hope I like it as much as The Book Thief. It is next on my list

  18. zany503

    In the third section of “I Am the Messenger”, Ed gets to help people in simpler ways. He learns that life is much more than violence and anger. From giving a family some Christmas lights to having his first heart-to-heart with his mother, Ed enjoys and feels the pain of this card. Perhaps one of the reasons this section is named “spades” is because one of the hardest things that people can hear is the truth. In fact, it is possible to use the word spade to call something by its real name or to speak bluntly. This is the kind of conversation Ed has with his mother. Ed asks, “’Why do you hate me so much?’” (Zusak 243). His mom replies, “’…you remind me of him’” (Zusak 243). By “him”, Ed’s mother is returning to his father. Finally, the whole truth about the hatred between mother and son is revealed. This is why the word spade is associated with fear. Ed feels awful about the truth. He loved his father, but he still feels ashamed. This section is all about some pain and some suffering that can be changed in an instant. Christmas lights brought joy to a family who was lacking real happiness. Ed learned about his own family and that even though his mom treated him cruelly, it was only because she wanted him to make something of himself, unlike his father had. And, an old man who owned a movie theater finally had some customers to fill the lonely space and clear up the dust. This is why in some card games spades is the most powerful suit.
    -Samantha A2

  19. Final Review by Casey
    “I am the Messenger” by Markus Zusak
    3.5 out of five stars
    An unexpected thriller by the author of “The Book Thief”
    “I am the Messenger” was an intriguing mystery stirred with romance, comedy, and violence. And still, hope. Zusak weaves the various themes into a perfectly crafted novel, not overbearing yet not as mundane as “The Book Thief”. Ed Kennedy’s escapades as a taxi driver following clues via playing cards lead him to play the hero in a life of poverty and his mother’s shame. As Ed battles angry people, confused faces, and more, coupled with his own self-doubt, he comes to find his place in the world through advocacy and kindness. Each fourth of the story is its own tale of Ed’s adventures and are the building blocks that create the novel as a whole. The reader develops compassion for Ed as he fawns after Audrey, his crush and hope for him as he experiences hurt and hardship.
    “I am the Messenger” was good, but not great. It was satisfying, but not phenomenal. Still, it’s an exciting novel well worth your time.

  20. starliu2

    7 out of 10 stars
    Ed sure has come a long way. From pathetic cabdriver, owner of a coffee-drinking Doorman, and hopeless lover of Audrey, it’s been fun watching him grow into the hero that he is. After Ed finally finishes the last card (except for Joker) and gets up the courage to kiss Audrey, he says, “And that’s when I realize…I’m not the messenger at all. I’m the message” (357). Through changing and bettering the lives of others, Ed has started to turn his life around as well. His messages brought out the best and worst in him, letting Ed fully grow and mature in the man he wants to be. To deliver the messages to his friends and mother, Ed needed to be courageous. But in the end, he wasn’t exactly a messenger that delivered hope and courage to others. He was the message itself; he showed complete strangers the hope and courage in himself. Ed was living proof to all his receivers that their lives could really improve and that the troubles they had would eventually lighten. Though I will always have a soft spot in my heart for The Book Thief, Zusak’s I am the Messenger is an extraordinary novel in its own right. My favorite thing about this book was that the writing style was so unique and structured and the voice of the characters shined through extremely strongly.
    I suppose one of the only things I disliked about this book is how Zusak makes a surprise visit in the last couple pages. The young man who visits Ed’s house at the end is described as having, “fairly short brown hair, stands a bit smaller than medium height, and wear a shirt, black jeans, and blue athletic shoes…There’s a faded yellow folder sitting on a cushion” (353). Flipping to the photo of Zusak on the About the Author page, we see that he matches this description perfectly. He is even holding the pair of athletic shoes and yellow folder to help the readers understand that he wrote himself into the book. This was a bit disgruntling for me because the story would have been completely fine without this. It’s just like Zusak decided on the spur of the moment to upset the book at the end and go, “Plot twist! Take that!” But that aside, IATM was a great read and it has changed my views on many things, like free beer, the name Daryl, and Wuthering Heights.
    Star Liu (:
    p.s. Anyone planning to read Zusak’s next book, Bridge of Clay? It sounds very interesting…

  21. bemyers4

    * * * * * * * – – –
    7 out of 10 stars
    Review by Bridget Myers

    “I am the Messenger” was beautifully written from beginning to end, with simplistic language and unencumbered thoughts. Markus Zusak keeps this way of writing consistent throughout the novel and allows the reader to step into the shoes of average Ed as he is faced with the great task of delivering “messages” to people in need. The simplicity of the writing makes the novel more relatable and seem as though it is written from Ed’s perspective. Because of the novel’s extreme simplicity though, I award the book seven out of ten stars instead of a higher score. Though the minimalism present in the novel directly speaks to Ed’s personality, it also takes away from detailed emotions and events that could have been portrayed if it were not so oversimplified. The tone of the author, as it is from Ed’s perspective, also often comes off as pessimistic. This to me feels like a poor choice in tone, as a novel should express a sense of hope at the end and throughout the book, not weigh the reader down with a character’s own troubles. There are enough stressors that surround us daily and we do not need anymore!
    Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it to anyone who appreciates witnessing an average bloke emerge from his small world and make a big difference in the lives of many. It shows the reader that in the small acts of helping others, one learns to help himself.

  22. My rating before part 5: 8.5/10
    After part 5: 7/10
    Why?
    Let me begin with my praises for I am the Messenger: what a good book! Zusak captures real people that have issues I can relate with and he adds humor (which is what separates a book like Don Quixote from The Odyssey).We grow with Ed as he changes from being just another underage taxi driver without prospects to a good person that cares about people and that, for me, is inspiring. (Quick question, do you guys think Ed would continue the random acts of kindness even though the cards were done?)
    A key message that Zusak was trying to show us through I am the Messenger, I think, is that people can only survive by hanging on to hope, however small that hope may be. The people that Ed “saves” in I am the Messenger, all hang on to some type of hope and Ed strengthens that hope (which is the point of the cards, I think). For example, the little girl in the beginning of the novel knew what was happening to her mother every night and she knew that she couldn’t do anything about it, but when Ed comes, what does she say? She asks, “Are you here to save us?” (78). Despite the reality she faces, she still wants to believe that a random stranger like Ed could do something.
    Okay, the novel was great in my mind, until the little “Hi, you have been part of a reality tv show that has been candidly recording every second of your life—congratulations!” moment. Okay, that never actually happened, but part five still it felt like it.
    “Yeah, it was about a year ago, and I saw your father buried. I saw you and your card games and your dog and your ma I just kept coming back, watching, the same way you did at all those addresses” (352)
    Okay, that’s fine, a little creepy but still okay, right? I mean, good came out of this— he sent the cards! But then THIS—
    “I killed your father, Ed.” (353).
    Whoa there— HE KILLED ED’S FATHER?!?!?!
    I don’t know what happened with Zusak when he wrote this last part, maybe something tragic happened in his life, or maybe he just got writers block and had no idea how to finish his novel in a dramatic and impactful way (happens to me all the time) but I just have to say that this last part was just weird and unnecessary as well. In my opinion, it would have been great if Ed never found out who wrote the cards. I don’t know. Basically, I liked pages 1-351 of I am the Messenger.

  23. 6 out of 10 stars
    Review by Radhika Subrahmanyan
    Markus Zusak wrote a beautiful, inspiring story within the pages of “I Am the Messenger”. I found Ed’s journey from a struggling cab driver to a hero in his own right to be a beautiful representation of the lengths that one can go when he pushes himself. From one quest to the next, I was entranced by Ed’s courage and resilience to the pain of his everyday life. However, the end of “IATM” ruined the whole book for me. In the final section of the book, I found almost every event to be unbelievable and, frankly, confusing. Characters that hadn’t been referenced since the beginning of the novel (namely, the bank robber) were brought back in with completely different personalities, and the much-awaited revealing of the man behind Ed’s entire journey was, to me, a letdown. The man who showed up at his apartment with a book that wrote down Ed’s every movement was a bit of an over-the-top twist and honestly a little creepy. I feel that the book as a whole was excellent, but the ending left me feeling unsatisfied and a little disappointed.
    I began “IATM” with exceedingly high expectations after reading “The Book Thief”, and the end of each book determined for me the quality of each novel. I ended “The Book Thief” in tears and I ended “IATM” simply confused. While it was a good read, I might not recommend this book to others, for I found it a little unrealistic for my taste.
    .

  24. zany503

    Rating: 7/10 stars
    “I Am the Messenger” by Markus Zusak was a captivating book to read. It is a story about an ordinary person who did not believe in himself and what he was able to accomplish and about how he was able to help other people. I loved Zusak’s writing style and his characters. I thought the book was full of insightful ideas and different views on what all people struggle with, from some sever issues to smaller things. I thought the story was inspiring and I loved watching the development of the main character Ed and his change into a hero. Some of the stories in the book inspired me and touched me more than others, and I thought the purpose behind each person Ed helped was great. However, I did not like the very end of the book at all. Part Five did not ruin the book completely, but I wish I had not read it. It was a bad ending because it was too cheesy and unrealistic. But, the whole book and its meaning is summed up in one perfect quote at the end of this chapter: “If a guy like you can stand up and do what you did, then maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of” (Zusak 357).
    -Samantha A2

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