What Sisters and Oblates Are Reading

I Am the Messenger


by Markus Zusak
Knopf

Sister Linda Romey

This Australian novel is a first-hand retelling of the strange experience of protagonist Ed Kennedy, a 19-year-old taxi driver in a dead-end town and with no life ambition. His life changes over the course of nearly a year when he is summoned to be the “messenger,” chosen to help others make life changes or to discover new purpose in life. It’s a sort of secular Jesus story with odd methods for inviting conversion.

Ed and his three friends, Ritchie, Marv and Audrey (whom he loves but doesn’t feel worthy of loving) regularly gather to play cards. So, it makes sense that Ed’s directives come via anonymously delivered playing cards with encoded instructions on them. He works his way through the ace of diamonds, clubs and spades. The ace of hearts is the last charge he’s given and the most difficult—as it involves delivering messages to his friends.

I quickly became engrossed in the lives of each of the recipients of Ed’s messages, in his creativity as he figured out not only what the message was for each but also how to deliver it. And I found myself wondering about times when I had been—or could be—such a messenger. The book is deep without being heavy and the dialogue is entertaining, with exchanges ranging from heartfelt tenderness to lighthearted humor. I particularly enjoyed the conversations between Ed and his smelly old dog, The Doorman.

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