I am the Messenger Book Blog

Book: Zusak, Marjus. I am the Messenger. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction.

Audience: 10th-12th grade.

Read Alouds: This Read Aloud describes Ritchie’s character, and also shows how little the friends know about each other.

The second Read Aloud demonstrates the theme of family.

Summary: During a bank robbery, nineteen year old cab driver Ed and his friends are inside the building and complain about how long the robber is taking. On the way out, the bank robber drops the gun. Ed picks it up and is declared a hero. Later, in the mail, Ed receives a card with three addresses and times scribbled down. Now Ed must choose if he wishes to go to each place and if he will interfere with the events he views.

Themes: The theme of friendship is seen in this novel. Even though Ritchie, Marv, Audrey, and Ed spend majority of their time together, they do not know much about each other. All of them have their secrets. For example, Marv has a child that he is saving money for yet none of the friends knew.

Another theme that is seen in this novel is family. Ed’s mother repeatedly uses profanities towards Ed, and yells at him. Early in the book, Ed’s mother calls. She complains how Ed did not pick up her coffee table like promised. Ed reveals his mother is kinder to his older brother and sisters. Later in the novel it is revealed his mother is tougher on Ed so he will want to leave the town. She wants Ed to not stay in the neighborhood. She wants him to go places with his life. Even though she is doing so through tough love, Ed’s mother states she still cares about Ed and that is why she is so hard on him.

Connections: This book would be good to read in a classroom if one wants to talk about the reader-author relationship. The involvement of the author in this book is dominant beyond a normal text because the text infers the author was the messenger. One could pair Introduction to Poetry, written by Billy Collins, to the novel. Both pieces have an active authors/writers voice. The class could compare how a writer uses voice in a novel to how voice is utalized in a poem. Again, traits of a unreliable narrator can be compared with I am the Messenger and Hamlet. Both texts have characters that are not reliable narrators and question humanity.

Reactions: Right from the beginning of the novel, I did not care for the characters. I felt like the characters were older than described. Even though I thought the plot was interesting, the form of the book and the unrealistic depiction of the age of the main characters through me off. For some reason, I felt like I couldn’t stop reading in the middle of the page where the chapter ended and began. It really made me feel uneasy.

Reception: On Common Sense Media, someone states “the message is powerful and very good. The main character, Ed, is funny and easy to relate to.” The novel has round characters that possesses characteristics that stand out. This novel is also easy to relate to. Most people have been at a point in their life where they do not know what they should do. Also, through Ed’s tasks, people can question what they would do if they were in Ed’s place.

Another reader on Library Thing claims, the novel is “weird, crazy, different from everything I’ve ever read in my life, and laughing-out-loud-seriously-I-can’t-breathe hilarious.” The author uses realistic dialogue and language in this piece. The characters, especially Ed, is honest in a funny way.

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4 Responses to I am the Messenger Book Blog

  1. Allison, I like your hand phone. You talk about friendship being a theme (and really the lack of depth in the friendships of Ed and his friends). What do you think Zusak is saying about friendship in the novel? What point is he making as he has the characters progress through the book?

    In your Reaction section you state, “or some reason, I felt like I couldn’t stop reading in the middle of the page where the chapter ended and began.” What do you mean by this? Did you feel you had to finish each person’s story in one sitting? Or something else.

  2. ajanacek says:

    Zusak is inferring you can have a close group of friends but not know much about them. Just because you are someones friend does not mean you know what is happening in their life. It is easy to hide the events of ones life. You only know as much as the friend tells you. He shows that friends can accept the things you don’t want to tell them when Ed finds out the things about his friends.

    When I went to read this novel, I would stop at the cards when I needed to do something else. This really bugged me because I felt like I stopped in the middle of the chapter. Since the text stopped in the middle of the page, I glanced at the next page and accidentally read ahead. I just had a problem with how the chapters were formatted into numbers of the playing cards. I like to have chapters separated by more than three enter strokes on a keyboard. It made me feel like I was not stopping at the end of the chapter, and pressured me to read a section in one sitting.

  3. So it was the actual, physical structure of the book that bothered you. If each “card” started on a new page then you might have felt better about the whole thing. It’s just like people pick up certain books because of the cover or the dust jacket. How a book is physically set up or structured can be just as important as the story itself.

  4. ajanacek says:

    Yes. It was the structure that turned me off to the book. I really liked how it was separated with playing cards, but I needed more of a page break. I would have felt a lot better if each “card” started on a new page!

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