‘The Messenger’ is a book by Markus Zusak starring Ed Kennedy, a 19 year old cab driver living in a suburban town in Australia. The book begins with Ed unintentionally becoming a hero after stopping a bank robbery. Ed narrates about his mundane and ordinary life that he spends playing cards with his friends Marv, Ritchie and Audrey (who he is hopelessly in love with but hasn’t had the same reciprocated), driving his cab, and living with his dog, the Doorman (who drinks coffee). Then there’s his Ma who while not living with Ed, thinks he’s no good and doesn’t hesitate in letting him know. In short, Ed reckons he has done jack-shit in all his nineteen years on earth. However, things begin to change after his heroic attempt in stopping the bank robbery, thereby giving meaning to his otherwise mundane life.
Ed begins receiving playing cards with instructions on them. These are in the form of Aces. The first set, the Ace of Diamonds, contains 3 addresses and times. Although Ed initially suspects it’s a joke from one of his friends, he follows the instructions and arrives at the addresses only to realise that in some way, he has to help the individuals at the addresses with their different problems. Once he has completed these deeds, he receives other aces (clubs, spades and hearts) with different instructions, each harder than the previous one. Ed takes us through this roller-coaster journey of attempting to decipher what the cards are telling him and then what he does to help the people identified through the cards. It is a journey that at times puts his own life at risk. But Ed doesn’t give up.
Who is sending him these cards?
Why are they sending him the cards?
What is Ed’s purpose in life?
Why has he been chosen as The Messenger?
This is a brilliant book. It shows us what goes on behind closed doors and how we are oblivious to it or choose to be oblivious. But it also goes to show, through a character like Ed, that we can all do something small to help people. The book delivers a very powerful message in my opinion. Add to it the mystery and the unanswered questions, it is a thrilling ride. In typical Aussie fashion, it is laid back with dry humour inserted that can make the reader chuckle. The writing style is quite captivating with each chapter titled as a playing card from a suit of cards. It is simple and engrossing and I found that I couldn’t put it down. I found that I liked the book even better than Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ which I know has received a lot more accolades.
The take home message from the book for me is that an ordinary person can do extraordinary things to make small changes in this world we live in.
Until next time,