Friday, April 18, 2008

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak BY: Lezah Williamson

For our recent trip to Europe, I went out and bought a LOT of books. I figured, with a nine hour flight, that I'd have lots of time on my hands. As it turns out, however, I spent most of the trip flicking between the generous selection of on-board movies and the 'where are we now' channel. My books were left unread and unloved...

However, by the trip home, they hadn't changed the movies, so I started reading I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. It took me a couple of chapter to figure out that it was set in Australia. The language that was used seemed more British than North American, but something was not quite right... Anyway, the feeling of disorientation ended when I discovered just where and when the story was set.

It starts off with Ed Kennedy, a 19 year old (underage) taxi driver. He thwarts a bank robbery, and in the process, becomes a momentary minor celebrity in his town. The hoopla dies down fairly quickly, but then he has a strange delivery: four aces, with addresses and times written on the back of the cards. The addresses don't mean anything to him, but his job as a taxi driver gives him the means by which to visit each of these sites at the appropriate time. What he sees determines his path: he is to right the wrongs that he sees.

However, Ed doesn't feel like a hero (in spite of his earlier bank robbery apprehension); but something inside of him doesn't let him walk away from the task at hand.

This book, that is alternately whimsical, violent, and inspiring, won the 2003 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. I thought, however, that the depiction of violence (which can be pretty brutal in some scenes) and dysfunction could be a little too graphic for some of the more gentle readers out there. Ed is, after all, a 19 year old - you couldn't really expect this book to be a good read for the average 10 year old.

But for those of us who are drifting and directionless, or who happen to be a little more mature, I strongly recommend this book.

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