Markus Zusak, who wrote The Messenger, is probably best known for having wrote The Book Thief. I haven’t read The Book Thief, but I saw the movie and howled buckets. So I was expecting great things from The Messenger, which won the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award and the 2003 NSW Premier’s Literary Award Ethel Turner Prize in Australia (Young Adult category).
The Messenger delivered.
The Messenger’s main character is Ed Kennedy, a twenty year old taxi driver. Ed grew up and continues to live in a low socio-economic area of a city. When he isn’t working, Ed bums around with his friends, mostly playing a card game called Annoyance. Ed is in love with Audrey, who has a series of boyfriends who come and go. Ed has a dog called The Doorman and a mother whose blood pressure seems to rise every time she sees him.
Things change for Ed when he prevents a bank robber from getting away and he becomes a hero. After this, Ed receives a card in the mail, the Ace of Diamonds, with three addresses on it. Ed visits each of the homes, and realises that he needs to do something for each of these families to make the world a better place.
When Ed completes these tasks, he is sent other aces with cryptic clues to solve. Again, each of the clues lead him to a task. The tasks vary enormously, from assisting a woman who is regularly being raped by her husband, to befriending a lonely old woman.
Ed is a likeable character, funny and honestly telling his story as he sees it. The words are perfect. Ed’s voice is ocker, with a broad Australian accent that is familiar and endearing to me, even though dialects in stories usually annoy me to the point of not finishing a book. His voice is often funny, although at other times the emotion made me feel exactly as the author intended, sad, angry, flattened, hopeful or hopeless.
For example; “I’m just another stupid human.”
“Have you ever noticed that idiots have a lot of friends? It’s just an observation.”
“I was always reading books when I should have been doing math and the rest of it.”
The Messenger reminded me a little of Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World. Maybe this might mean that The Messenger is predictable for some readers, but for me, I found the story and the message to be inspiring.