Wednesday, January 18

He Aced It When He Wrote This Book...

I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak is one of the best books that I have read in a long while.  Not that I haven't read fun books, with entertaining plot lines and surprising twists and inventive characters, but this book had substance.  Lines that I remember and messages that resonate with me still.  It is made-it-into-my-library-for-my-future-children kind of good.  I bought the book to entertain me on my 12-hour travel day coming back to school after the Christmas break, but it became so much more.  Yesterday I was reminded of it by an applicable statement from the Foreword to Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning (required for my psychology class; I'll let you know how it turns out).  The rabbi author of the Foreword said:

"Typically, if a book has one passage, one idea with the power to change a person's life, that alone justifies reading it, rereading it, and finding room for it on one's shelves.  This book has several such passages."

I am planning on reading I Am the Messenger again in the near future, and probably making it the first book (besides my scriptures) that I will write in the margins of ( to begin practicing the art of marginalia).  I really don't want to ruin the book for other readers (because if you haven't read it, you need to), so this critique will be sparse on details.  The story is a powerful one, starting almost immediately, and not finishing until the last sentence.  It is the story of anyone that thinks they aren't making a difference in the world, and the inspiration we need to start living so that we do make an impact.  The novel is full of truth, about the ugly and the good, and what makes life beautiful.  Truth about young men and women that have nothing and the worth of our lives.  It is heart-wrenching and hilarious. It is life and how to make it better.  A How and a Why all in one. 

So of course there are some more... adult topics discussed, with the milder curse words frequently showing up.  There is poverty and guns and sex and families.  And the forces that tear us apart and put us back together, the breaking points where the tiniest kindness saves us.  Families that love and those that hate in spite of the strongest love.  It is the truth of broken families and their importance anyway.

This book resonated with me because it answers questions from my own story.  That it isn't just me with despair in my life at times, with a disaster that I don't know how to handle and another hand is required to help.  That my life is worth something even if I can't always see the good that I am trying to do, and sometimes it is as simple as an ice cream cone or an empty box.  Sometimes being a student is the most selfish occupation I can think of, and then I have to remember what I am studying for, in the end.  The book reminded me that the truth of the world is beautiful, even though it includes the painful and sorrowful things. That love and hate can coexist in surprising ways.

An emotional story of a young man, just like any other, that opens his eyes to becoming something more.