The Messenger (Zusak novel)
Australian paperback edition
|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. The entire story is written through the eyes of the main character, Ed Kennedy, who describes and comments on the story throughout the book.
During a visit to the bank, the protagonist Ed Kennedy, a nineteen-year-old Australian taxi driver, accidentally foils a robbery when the robber tries to escape in his friend's run-down car. After speaking to the police, he is interviewed by local media and proclaimed a hero. Ed complains about his life, lamenting his strained relationship with his mother Bev Kennedy, as his father died recently and left Ed with only his dog, the Doorman. He lives alone in an apartment, playing cards every week with his friends: Ritchie, who is unemployed and generally apathetic about life; Marv, a stingy carpenter; and Audrey, a fellow taxi driver who Ed is in love with, although she does not return the feeling.
One night he receives a small envelope in the mail with no return label, inside of which is an Ace of Diamonds with three addresses and times of day written on them. After his friends deny any involvement, Ed travels to the first address on the card at midnight and witnesses a man raping his wife while their daughter cries on the porch. The other addresses correspond to a senile widow named Milla who lives alone and refers to him as Jimmy, as well as a young girl named Sophie who runs barefoot every morning but still cannot win at her track meets. Ed researches Milla's history and discovers that she is waiting for her husband who died sixty years ago during World War II, so he pretends to be Jimmy and comes to reads to her weekly. He raises Sophie's spirits by giving her an empty shoe box to get her to try running barefoot at her next competition, and even though she loses again, she still finds pride in her achievement. Finally, he receives a gun in the mail and kidnaps the rapist before threatening to kill him for his crimes.
After finishing the Ace of Diamonds, two masked men break into his house, beat him up, and leave him a congratulatory letter as well as an Ace of Clubs with a vague clue. The next day Ed reveals to Audrey that he only forced the rapist to leave the city, before telling her that he wishes the two of them could be together, but Audrey refuses. Eventually, Ed picks up a man in his cab who tells him to drive to the river before leading Ed on a chase to a rock formation on which three names are written. The first is Thomas O'Reilly, a pastor in a run-down area of the city with a dwindling congregation; Ed helps him by organizing and advertising for a party with free beer in order to encourage everyone to come on Sunday. The next, Angie Carusso, is a single mother who Ed witnesses buying ice cream for her children, and he buys her one as well to show that she is appreciated. Finally, Gavin Rose is a young boy who constantly fights his brother, so Ed beats up Gavin in order to encourage the brother to take revenge, which they do one night by assaulting Ed and cementing their brotherhood.
After participating in a yearly football game, Ed's dog is stolen and he has to buy it back from a boy, who also gives him the Ace of Spades, on which are three names of famous authors. After trying to kiss Audrey one day and being gently rejected again, he goes to the library and eventually realizes that the street names come from parts of the title, with notes written on certain page numbers for specific addresses. The first, Glory Road, has Lua Tatupu, whose family has decorated their home for Christmas with strings of broken lights, so Ed buys new ones for them and sets them up himself. On Clown Street, Ed runs into his mother on a date, and he eventually drives to her house and confronts her about her disdain for him before reconciling. Finally, on Bell Street he meets an old man named Bernie Price who runs an antiquated theater. Ed brings Audrey there to watch Cool Hand Luke and invites Bernie to watch it with them, but eventually the screen cuts to videos of Ed performing his tasks so far.
Ed finds the Ace of Hearts on his seat in the theater, on which is written three movie titles. After consulting with Bernie, he realizes that they are references to his three friends Ritchie, Marv, and Audrey. He talks to Ritchie late one night and the two stand in a river for an hour, as Ed encourages him to search for something he cares about. Afterwards, Ed, confused by Marv's stinginess, asks him for a loan as a ploy, causing Marv to reveal that he has been saving money to care for a child he had with a girl named Suzanne Boyd who moved away after she became pregnant years ago. After discussing it, Ed convinces him to travel to her house, and although Suzanne's father angrily claims that he brought shame upon the family, the two eventually reconcile and Marv is reconnected with Suzanne and their daughter. Finally, Ed comes to Audrey early one morning and dances with her for three minutes to show his love for her, hoping that she can love him back.
Upon returning elatedly to his place, he finds a Joker with his own address written on it, which bothers him greatly because he assumed he had finished. One day a man enters his cab and asks him to drive to every address he has been to so far, taking him on a tour of his accomplishments, before revealing that he was the robber, before telling him to go back home. Inside is a man who claims responsibility for the entire series of events, before handing him a folder that details all of Ed's adventures. In a postmodern twist, the man is strongly implied to be Markus Zusak himself, who has written Ed's story right down to the current discussion they are having. He leaves Ed to consider the philosophical implications, and Ed stays inside for days before Audrey comes one afternoon and asks to stay with him for good. They kiss and Ed explains everything to her, before realizing that the story he resides in is actually a reminder to others of their true potential, ending with "'I'm not the messenger at all. I'm the message.'"
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.
In 2015 the novel was adapted for stage by Xavier Hazard and Archie Stapleton and performed by the Redfoot Youth Theatre Company 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)
- "I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak - review" The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-11-01.
- Mueller R, The Messenger, Currency Press, Melbourne, 2008.
- "Subiaco Arts Centre".
- "The Messenger" Redfoot Youth Theatre. Retrieved 2015-11-01.
- "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.