In my excitement about the movie version of The Book Thief to be released this fall I borrowed one of Markus Zusak's other books (on audio) to listen to in the car: I am the Messenger. I have to confess that before the first of seven CDs had ended I seriously considered not listening to the rest of it and returning it to the library. But I'm glad I didn't do that.
Ed Kennedy is a 19 year-old cab driver in Australia. His family life is a little crazy, but he has a solid group of friends and the four of them enjoy playing cards together. After Ed happens to be inside a bank during a robbery, playing cards with nearby addresses written on them begin showing up in his mail. Though he doesn't know who is sending them, he knows he's charged with visiting each address and helping the people there in some way. The first address he visits is what nearly made me turn in the audiobook early, but beyond that, I really started to like Ed quite a lot, and I admired his desire to do good things to help people at any cost.
About halfway through the book Ed begins helping a family having financial trouble and a lonely man who is trying to keep an old movie theater in business, and it all really started to tug at my heartstrings. Once Ed has finished all of his tasks of helping strangers, he was then faced with the task of helping himself and his friends and family, which all nearly did a number on me. By the end of the book I was sad to see Ed go and wished I could continue the journey with him.
Though this book is nothing at all like The Book Thief and I disagree with its categorization of being a young adult novel (the language and some of the situations in the book, to me, don't lend themselves to younger readers), I heartily endorse it. Bonus: if you get the audiobook version, the actor who reads is just perfect. To me, he really is Ed Kennedy.