How well do we really know the people who are closest to us? That was the question that kept repeating through my mind on a loop as I read I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak. When you think about it, we really only know what other people present to us and vice versa. You never can tell the inner workings of a person no matter how well you may know them. Everyone presents some kind of facade to the world. And even when people throw out hints about who they really are and their problems sometimes we’re just so caught up in our own lives we fail to see those clues and hints. This is the world the protagonist of I Am The Messenger, Ed Kennedy, occupies. He barely lives in the present let alone thinking about his life in the future. He just kind of exists. That is until he begins to get playing cards in the mail with messages written on them.
The messages point him in the direction of people who need help of some kind, and Ed has to figure out how to help them. From domestic abuse to an old woman waiting for her long lost love to return to her, Ed finds ways to assuage people’s troubles and in a roundabout way his own. With each person he helps, Ed is forced to face the reality of his own life and his impact on others. And he’s surprised to find that by putting himself out there he’s not just changing his relationships but strengthening them and giving them more meaning and depth. The further Ed is pushed the more walls start to break down between himself and those closest to him. He begins to see his life and himself in a new way that is challenging and terrifying but fulfilling.
The novel is reminiscent of the movie Pay It Forward with Haley Joel Osment and Helen Hunt in the sense that by helping others you are spreading a similar message and will get other people to help those around them.
I honestly loved this book. Zusak has proven to me he is a great writer with The Book Thief, and this novel is just as good, though different. I agree with what I said in the beginning, especially after reading the ending. This novel feels very personal for the author. Ed Kennedy could have been him as a teenager. He even inserts himself into the end as explanation for why Ed was sent to help all of the different people around his town.
I Am The Messenger is an interesting twist on the coming of age story where the character is forced by an omniscient hand to look around him and change his fate. He’s forced to confront his own demons whether he wants to or not and really examine his relationships and how they have affected his life and shaped his identity. But more than that, he can change the way he sees himself and the world around him. He doesn’t have to be what he’s always been. He has the power to change the way other perceive him and at the end of the novel he has the tools to take ahold of his own life.
Rating: 5/5 This is one book not to miss.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015! Happy reading!