There are very few books I feel I can recommend to just about anyone, but this is one of them. Many of you have probably heard of Marcus Zusak simply because The Book Thief went crazy a few years back, but few have looked at his other titles for young adults. I read (and loved) The Book Thief, but honestly, I Am the Messenger is hands down one of my favorite novels and between the two, easily the winner.
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Our hero, Ed Kennedy, is very much not a hero. In fact, he’s a self-proclaimed loser who had to lie about his age just to get a job. His hobbies include playing cards and pining over his best friend, Audrey, who he’s loved forever but never had the nerve to pursue (Audrey, on the other hand, claims she loves him too much to mess things up with something as common as sex). All of this changes, though, when he accidentally foils a bank robbery and becomes something of a local celebrity. That day someone decides to single him out to become a true hero.
Soon after the fateful bank robbery, Ed receives the first of four playing cards in his mailbox, an ace of clubs with three addresses and three times listed on the face. It is up to him to figure out what the clues mean and what he needs to do to help the ones that need him.
Who should read this?
Honestly, as I said at the beginning, I feel just about everyone should read this book at least once in their life. This is the sort of book that you will think about for weeks after you finish it, and it will make you think back on all the decisions you’ve made in your life and how they’ve turned you into the person you are. If you’re interested in a real-world type of story, drama, romance, soul-searching, or any combination of the above, you will most likely love this book. There’s even a bit of mystery for those that need that, and a bit of my mystical for those who enjoy it. All in all, this is a book that has just about everything.
An added bonus, chances are good you can finish this book in a matter of a few hours even if you’re a moderately slow reader.
Who shouldn’t read this?
If you’ve got serious issues with profanity, you might not get too far in this story. Ed and his friends are pretty generous with the swearing and if it bothers you, chances are good you won’t be able to settle in a really enjoy this book.
Also, if you’ve struggled through abusive situations and are still trying to work through that, you might find this book a bit triggering. There are some very dark situations right out of the gate so you should save yourself the pain. This is a book that can wait until you’ve healed.
And with that… get reading! Set aside a couple afternoons, find a quiet corner, and go on a journey through your past.
Added note: if you’ve got a teen that’s a reluctant reader, I highly recommend this book! When I worked at the bookstore, this was one of my top recommendations, and easily number 1 with teachers trying to get students to actually engage in their reading. Remember, though, LOTS of foul language. This might be a bonus or a negative depending on your reader!