I laughed, giggled and laughed some more while reading the first chapter of Australian author Markus Zusak’s The Messenger (sold under the title, ‘I am the Messenger,’ in the USA). The same Markus Zusak of The Book Thief fame!
And to test whether my sense of the absurd was akin to others, I asked two family members to read that first chapter. Needless to say, each burst out laughing and chuckled often at the comical scenario and the unquestionably, ‘Aussie,’ sense of mateship in the narrative. One of the aforementioned family members hasn’t put the book down and has also influenced two friends to read it.
Make no mistake, Zusak has captured the Aussie essence in this tale, so much so that I ponder now to wonder if non-Australian readers would understand, relate or appreciate the various nuances and essentially ocker humour that pervades the story. This book would make a great high school text book for Australian students, as it covers the subject’s ‘coming of age,’ intriguing and niggling mysteries, boy yearning for girl, family dysfunction, relationship issues and a lot more that high school students could relate to and discuss.
The blurb on the back cover relates the fact that Ed, ‘the pathetic card player,’ is given a player’s card on which is written cryptic clues for him to follow. In the final analysis, the identity of the sender holds little importance in comparison to Ed’s journey.
The Messenger is as different from The Book Thief as the proverbial, ‘chalk and cheese’ but is nevertheless, a page-turner. While Ed Sullivan, the narrator and subsequently, THE messenger, would himself question the moniker, ‘hero,’ he does suffer the trials and tribulations that beset him and handles them in his own unorthodox manner. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention his stinky, ‘just smells like he’s dead,’ seventeen-year-old dog, the Doorman. The reader soon learns that Ed loves the Doorman and so much so that the Doorman gets his own bowl of coffee every morning.
It is a book I found hard to put down and soon after the first chapter, I found myself caring about what happens to Ed Sullivan.
© Wendy Robinson 2014
If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it, even if I did not have the ability in the beginning. ~ Mahatma Gandhi