The Messenger (Markus Zusak novel)
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Australian paperback edition
|Publisher||Pan Macmillan Australia|
|Publication date||10 January 2002|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Pages||396 (first edition, paperback)|
The Messenger is a 2002 novel by Markus Zusak, and winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. The Messenger was released in the United States under the name I Am the Messenger. It is told in first-person.
The story begins with an introduction to the character of Ed Kennedy, a down-and-out underage taxi driver who is in love with his best friend Audrey, who, to his dismay, feels that she cares about him too much to date him. Ed is standing in a bank queue when a robbery takes place. He accidentally foils the robbers' escape, and is proclaimed a hero. Shortly after, he receives an Ace of Diamonds in the mail. The ace is from an unknown source. On the ace is written a list of three addresses and specific times next to each one. These represent a series of tasks that Ed must complete.
His tasks are as follows:
- He must save a woman who is raped by her husband almost every night.
- He must comfort a lonely old lady.
- He must show a teenage girl how to take control of her life and become more confident.
Throughout the book, Ed receives different playing cards in the mail. Each card is a different ace, and each ace contains a series of tasks, often in the form of cryptic clues. On the second to last card, he receives a list with movie titles on it and deciphers the names of his three best friends.
His other tasks are:
- He must go to a church that needs a congregation
- He must buy an ice-cream for a woman who can't afford her own
- He must help two brothers realize their love for one another
- He must buy Christmas lights for a poor family.
- He must tell his mother he accepts her new boyfriend
- He must go to a lonely cinema with no business
- He must talk to a friend in the middle of a river
- He must help his friend Marvin Harris build up the courage to meet his daughter
- He must let his friend Audrey admit that she loves him.
The last card is a Joker and has his own address written on it. But as it is made clear in the last lines of the novel it's all about the realization of chances and potential because as Ed finally says:"I'm not the messenger at all. I'm the message." Ed was the 'guinea pig' of an experiment to see if an ordinary (very unsuccessful) man could perform the impossible and give hope to the world that this generation is not useless. Ed, who had always thought of himself as pathetic and second-loved to his brother, discovers that he has the ability to change lives. As the book comes to a close, Audrey comes to Ed and reveals that she does love him, deciding to move in with him for good.
Hillias J. Martin described the character Ed Kennedy as being a nineteen year old who has nothing in life to really be proud of due to the death of his dad from alcoholism, and low amount of success in life.
Hillias J. Martin complemented Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations as being "believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw."
In 2008 the novel was adapted for the stage by Ross Mueller. It was first performed by The Canberra Youth Theatre on 24 November 2008.
In 2011 the novel was adapted again for the stage by Curtin's Hayman Theatre Company and performed at the Subiaco Arts Centre in Perth, Western Australia.
- Won - New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards: Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature (2003)
- Won - CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award: Older Readers (2003)
- Won - Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year for Children (2005)
- Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book (2006)
- Won - Honour Book, Michael L. Printz Award (2006)
- Won - Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (2007)
- Martin, Hillias. "Zusak, Markus. I Am the Messenger". School Library Journal. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- Mueller R, The Messenger, Currency Press, Melbourne, 2008.
- RightsGenie "Who owns the film rights to I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak?", "RightsGenie", 1 April 2011.
- "Winners 2000-2006 CBCA". Children's Book Council of Australia. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
- "2006 Michael L. Printz Award Winner". Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved 2007-07-14.