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.