I Am the Messenger

I finally got to read over break and it was the most amazing thing ever!! I know I’ve said this before, but I love books. So much. I did quite a bit of reading over the last two weeks. I finally got to finish I Am the Messenger (my new favorite book in the entire history of the world), I started Light in August by William Faulkner, and I picked up the Sherlock Holmes stories again with The Sign of Four.

Like I said, my favorite was I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, the author of The Book Thief. This book is so incredible; I don’t even know where to start. Remember in my Most Impactful Book post when I talked about those books that steal your heart: beat, blood, and all? Yeah, I Am the Messenger is definitely one of those, and I have no idea how to do it justice with this paltry analysis, but here it goes. I’ll be careful to avoid plot summary. It’s not a terribly dramatic mystery or thriller, but there is suspense and curiosity. And Zusak is an absolute master of knowing when to reveal facts and when to hold them back. I’d rather not spoil that.

The book opens with a bank robbery. A failed one. Ordinary Ed Kennedy stops a mostly incompetent bank robber and sets off, let’s say, a life-size card game from which Ed will never be the same, to put it grandiosely. The book never directly states where the story takes place, but I believe it is set somewhere either in England or Australia, due to some of the nuances of the characters’ vernacular. The story follows Ed’s journey through the ace cards and the not-so-forthcoming instructions tacked to each one, all from an unknown sender. It is such a simple yet most profound journey, beautifully composed and portrayed by Zusak’s simultaneously graceful and unceremonious, elysian prose. His writing is raw and honest, eloquent when it needs to be, and, above all, human. His writing style is unbelievably relatable, feigning the ordinary, yet he manages to interweave the most profound sentences and ideas. If I knew a word stronger than profound I would use it. Zusak makes his points stick through syntax designed to catch you off guard. He slips beautiful little lines like “big things are often just small things that get noticed” at the end of average thought processes or unsuspecting dialogue to make your mind jump and 180 and realize that he’s right.

It is a slight bit idealistic in certain human interactions and culminations of events, but, nevertheless, this book is the most imperfectly perfect human thing I’ve ever read. It has several motifs and slight social commentaries that it fiddles with. But its main point, its most imploring argument, is to live. Live your best life, as your best self, and make a difference. Have an impact on the world, and the people, around you. Not just a positive impact, but a real one, an honest one, raw and compassionate and immovable. No spoilers but I will venture to say that it does, for the most part, wrap things up in a content, if somewhat crooked, bow. But it is not placid. It is the kind of book that, no matter how resolved its storyline, its final pages ignite you to do something, a call to action, to arms. A call to take up space, and care.

5 thoughts on “I Am the Messenger

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  1. I have difficulty reading books because I have to have some sort of slight interest in the first place. I admire your blog posts because of your consistent enthusiasm and passion for literature, which is something I lack. While I don’t generally read books just because someone wrote a review, I just may give this one a chance someone this year.

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