Book Club: The Messenger by Markus Zusak

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Once a month, I’m meeting with some close friends to discuss a book. We were hoping that it would push us to read books that we wouldn’t otherwise pick up.

The first book we chose was The Messenger by Markus Zusak. I have to admit, the book didn’t really grab me. The characters didn’t really speak to me; in fact, I found the dog (‘The Doorman’) to be the only tolerable character! Since this was the inaugural book club, I decided to persist, and I’m glad that I did. The book explored some interesting themes, although I think that the colloquial Australian language used throughout the book masked them a little.

The book focuses around a young guy, Ed Kennedy. Ed is a pretty pathetic guy at the beginning; he feels like he isn’t really living his life the way he should. He has a few close friends, Marv, Ritchie, and Audrey. Ed is in love with Audrey, but Audrey doesn’t really know how to love.

The novel opens with a bank robbery scene. Ed saves the day by going after the bank robber. A mysterious playing card shows up, the ace of diamonds, with three addresses written on it. Ed goes to these addresses and finds people that need his help. These cards are the driving theme behind the book. They encourage the reader to go out into the community and help people that are in need; whether it’s a lonely old lady, or a woman being beaten by her husband, or maybe someone who just needs a little encouragement.

The final scene ends with the mysterious man in Ed’s house. He tells Ed that he killed Ed’s father, that he organized the bank robbery, that he made Ed a bad taxi driver, and that orchestrated everything. Originally this ending felt like a little bit of a cop out. Although the more we discussed it, the more interesting it became. We came to the conclusion that man delivering the messages was in fact the Author visiting his creation. It felt almost like hindsight; the author was revisiting events in his life that he wished he had dealt with better. A little like when you are standing in the shower thinking ‘Ugh, why the hell did I say that yesterday – I’m such an idiot! I’ll never speak again.’ But then a few days later, you’re thinking the same thing about something else you wish you hadn’t done! In that way, now that the cards have stopped, I think Ed will go back to mediocrity. It’s a lot easier to have hindsight than foresight.

On that note, I think it’s time to wrap up the book nook with our ratings!

My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Group rating: ★★☆☆☆

Have you read The Messenger? What did you think?

Our next book is the The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, a novel about a young Australian surgeon in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp during the Second World War. In fact, we will be discussing it tonight! The blog post will go up soon, so keep an eye out for it!


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