Cover image for I am the messenger
I am the messenger
Library ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House/Listening Library, p2006.
Physical Description:
7 sound discs (ca. 75 min. each) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:

Compact discs.
Added Author:
After capturing a bank robber, nineteen-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help, and he begins getting over his lifelong feeling of worthlessness.


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From the author of the extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller The Book Thief , I Am the Messenger is an acclaimed novel filled with laughter, fists, and love.


Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail. That's when Ed becomes the messenger. Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

Author Notes

Markus Zusak was born in Sydney, Australia on June 23, 1975. He began writing at the age of 16, and seven years later his first book, The Underdog, was published. He is best known for his young adult novels The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, both of which are Michael L. Printz Honor books. The Book Thief was adapted into a movie. His next book, Bridge of Clay was published October 2018. It won 2019 Indie Book Awards for Debut Fiction and Book of the Year.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Two Aussie slackers stumble into a bank robbery, and inadvertently prevent it, bickering about their jalopy all the while. One of them, Ed Kennedy, a 19-year-old taxi driver, soon receives mysterious playing cards in the mail, and winds up taking on other, similarly baffling reclamation and assistance projects, prodded by an unknown guardian angel. Gray's reading accentuates Zusak's amusing tale with a series of comically elongated Aussie vowels for Ed's first-person narrative. Gray doesn't quite sound like a teenager-his diction is too precise, too well-studied for that-but he captures something of the broad humor and lackadaisical good cheer of late adolescence. Zusak's book mingles drama and comedy admirably, and Gray nimbly shifts gears-far more fluidly than that jalopy ever could. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(High School) Ed Kennedy is the messenger. Days after surprising even himself by halting a bungled bank robbery, Ed receives a playing card in the mail -- an ace of diamonds with three addresses written on it. As he visits each location, the aimless nineteen-year-old cabbie discovers troubled occupants in desperate need of assistance, including an abused wife and a lonely widow. Drawn to help (he runs the abusive husband out of town and plays along with the elderly widow's fantasy that he's her long-dead mate), Ed finds a sense of purpose in his own directionless life, which has been further buffeted by his father's recent death, his mother's temper, and a lack of romantic interest from the girl he loves. The novel becomes episodic as Ed goes on to receive the other three aces and, using his intellect, instincts, and occasional help from odd visitors, assists a priest with a failing parish, befriends an immigrant family, and eventually helps each of his best friends confront a personal problem. While readers expecting to learn the who and why behind Ed's mysterious, life-changing game of aces may feel shortchanged by an ending that is at once too clever and ultimately confusing, the laid-back, dryly humorous first-person voice is engaging and unsentimental. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Gr. 9-12. Ed is a 19-year-old loser only marginally connected to the world; he's the son that not even his mother loves. But his life begins to change after he acts heroically during a robbery. Perhaps it's the notoriety he receives that leads to his receiving playing cards in the mail. Ed instinctively understands that the scrawled words on the aces are clues to be followed, which lead him to people he will help (including some he'll have to hurt first). But as much as he changes those who come into his life, he changes himself more. Two particular elements will keep readers enthralled: the panoply of characters who stream in and out of the story, and the mystery of the person sending Ed on the life-altering missions. Concerning the former, Zusak succeeds brilliantly. Ed's voice is assured and unmistakeable, and other characters, although seen through Ed's eyes, are realistically and memorably evoked (readers will almost smell Ed's odoriferous dog when it ambles across the pages). As for the ending, however, Zusak is too clever by half. He offers too few nuts-and-bolts details before wrapping things up with an unexpected, somewhat unsatisfying recasting of the narrative. Happily, that doesn't diminish the life-affirming intricacies that come before. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2005 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Markus Zusak's writing grows stronger with each new title. His trademark is strange tales filled with quirky and memorable characters, all struggling to survive in a world that's mostly harsh and uncaring. In this novel (Knopf, 2005), 19-year-old Ed Kennedy considers himself pretty much a "zero," a cab driver with an unreciprocated crush on a girl who considers him her "best friend," the mother from hell, and friends who are battling their own demons. But when Ed incompetently stops a bank robbery, his hapless action sets off a string of events that change him from a budding down-and-outer into a powerful messenger responsible for changing people's lives in ways both strange and oddly appropriate. Narrator Marc Aden Gray is brilliant, capturing the sweet mix of desperation and innocence that characterize Ed's approach to life. His mesmerizing performance guarantees that the unique voices of the many unforgettable characters that leap and dance across the pages will stay with listeners for a long, long time.--Cindy Lombardo, Tuscarawas County Public Library, New Philadelphia, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

In this winner of the Australian Children's Book Award for Older Readers, 19-year-old Ed Kennedy slouches through life driving a taxi, playing poker with his buddies, and hanging out with his personable dog, Doorman. The girl he loves just wants to be friends, and his mother constantly insults him, both of which make Ed, an engaging, warm-hearted narrator, feel like a loser. But he starts to overcome his low self-esteem when he foils a bank robbery and then receives a series of messages that lead him to do good deeds. He buys Christmas lights for a poor family, helps a local priest, and forces a rapist out of town. With each act, he feels better about himself and builds a community of friends. The openly sentimental elements are balanced by swearing, some drinking and violence, and edgy friendships. Suspense builds about who is sending the messages, but readers hoping for a satisfying solution to that mystery will be disappointed. Those, however, who like to speculate about the nature of fiction, might enjoy the unlikely, even gimmicky, conclusion. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



the holdup The gunman is useless. I know it. He knows it. The whole bank knows it. Even my best mate, Marvin, knows it, and he's more useless than the gunman. The worst part about the whole thing is that Marv's car is standing outside in a fifteen-minute parking zone. We're all facedown on the floor, and the car's only got a few minutes left on it. "I wish this bloke'd hurry up," I mention. "I know," Marv whispers back. "This is outrageous." His voice rises from the depths of the floor. "I'll be getting a fine because of this useless bastard. I can't afford another fine, Ed." "The car's not even worth it." "What?" Marv looks over at me now. I can sense he's getting uptight. Offended. If there's one thing Marv doesn't tolerate, it's someone putting shit on his car. He repeats the question. "What did you say, Ed?" "I said," I whisper, "it isn't even worth the fine, Marv." "Look," he says, "I'll take a lot of things, Ed, but . . ." I tune out of what he's saying because, quite frankly, once Marv gets going about his car, it's downright pain-in-the-arse material. He goes on and on, like a kid, and he's just turned twenty, for Jesus' sake. He goes on for another minute or so, until I have to cut him off. "Marv," I point out, "the car's an embarrassment, okay? It doesn't even have a hand brake--it's sitting out there with two bricks behind the back wheels." I'm trying to keep my voice as quiet as possible. "Half the time you don't even bother locking it. You're probably hoping someone'll flog it so you can collect the insurance." "It isn't insured." "Exactly." "NRMA said it wasn't worth it." "It's understandable." That's when the gunman turns around and shouts, "Who's talkin' back there?" Marv doesn't care. He's worked up about the car. "You don't complain when I give you a lift to work, Ed, you miserable upstart." "Upstart? What the hell's an upstart?" "I said shut up back there!" the gunman shouts again. "Hurry up then!" Marv roars back at him. He's in no mood now. No mood at all. He's facedown on the floor of the bank. The bank's being robbed. It's abnormally hot for spring. The air-conditioning's broken down. His car's just been insulted. Old Marv's at the end of his tether, or his wit's end. Whatever you want to call it--he's got the shits something terrible. We remain flattened on the worn-out, dusty blue carpet of the bank, and Marv and I are looking at each other with eyes that argue. Our mate Ritchie's over at the Lego table, half under it, lying among all the pieces that scattered when the gunman came in yelling, screaming, and shaking. Audrey's just behind me. Her foot's on my leg, making it go numb. The gunman's gun is pointed at the nose of some poor girl behind the counter. Her name tag says Misha. Poor Misha. She's shivering nearly as bad as the gunman as she waits for some zitty twenty-nine-year-old fella with a tie and sweat patches under his arms to fill the bag with money. "I wish this bloke'd hurry up," Marv speaks. "I said that already," I tell him. "So what? I can't make a comment of my own?" "Get your foot off me," I tell Audrey. "What?" she responds. "I said get your foot off me--my leg's going numb." She moves it. Reluctantly. "Thanks." The gunman turns around and shouts his question for the last time. "Who's the bastard talking?" The thing to note with Marv is that he's problematic at the best of times. Argumentative. Less than amiable. He's the type of friend you find yourself constantly arguing with--especially when it comes to his shitbox Falcon. He's also a completely immature arsehole when he's in the mood. He calls out in a jocular manner, "It's Ed Kennedy, sir. It's Ed who's talking!" "Thanks a lot!" I say. (My full name's Ed Kennedy. I'm nineteen. I'm an underage cabdriver. I'm typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city--not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I'm decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.) "Well, shut up, Ed!" the gunman screams. Marv smirks. "Or I'll come over there and shoot the arse off you!" It's like being in school again and your sadistic math teacher's barking orders at you from the front of the room, even though he couldn't care less and he's waiting for the bell so he can go home and drink beer and get fat in front of the telly. I look at Marv. I want to kill him. "You're twenty years old, for Christ's sake. Are you trying to get us killed?" "Shut up, Ed!" The gunman's voice is louder this time. I whisper even quieter. "If I get shot, I'm blaming you. You know that, don't you?" "I said shut up, Ed!" "Everything's just a big joke, isn't it, Marv?" "Right, that's it." The gunman forgets about the woman behind the counter and marches over to us, fed up as all buggery. When he arrives we all look up at him. Marv. Audrey. Me. And all the other hopeless articles like us sprawled out on the floor. The end of the gun touches the bridge of my nose. It makes it itchy. I don't scratch it. The gunman looks back and forth between Marv and me. Through the stocking on his face I can see his ginger whiskers and acne scars. His eyes are small and he has big ears. He's most likely robbing the bank as a payback on the world for winning the ugliness prize at his local fete three years running. "So which one of you's Ed?" "Him," I answer, pointing to Marv. "Oh no you don't," Marv counters, and I can tell by the look on his face that he isn't as afraid as he should be. He knows we'd both be dead by now if this gunman was the real thing. He looks up at the stocking-faced man and says, "Hang on a sec. . . ." He scratches his jawline. "You look familiar." "Okay," I admit, "I'm Ed." But the gunman's too busy listening to what Marv has to say for himself. "Marv," I whisper loudly, "shut up." From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.