Sunday, August 19, 2012

So There I Was In Union Station...

     I was getting pretty antsy last Sunday about catching my 5:00 p.m. train back from D.C. (see most recent post), and as a result, my son humored me and got me to Union Station by 4:20.  And that was when I realized that in my hasty planning for this day trip, I hadn't given any thought to what I would do on the train for two-and-a-half hours.  I guess I  must have vaguely imagined that I would sleep, but when the time came, I knew I was much too wired for that. 
     Did you know that there is a Barnes & Noble in Union Station?  One that has a YA section?  Well, now we share that valuable piece of info.  I bought "I Am the Messenger," by Markus Zusak, and I read it all the way to Newark, and then after dinner I picked it up again and read until the end, because I needed to find out what would happen. 
     The protagonist, 19-year-old Ed Kennedy, is a quintessential loser.  He moved out of his mother's house into a shack because his mother can't speak a civil word to him, but unlike all his other siblings, he's never made it out of his dead-end town.  He drives a cab for a living, plays cards with his loser friends Ritchie, Marv and Audrey for recreation, and turns to his 17-year-old dog, Doorman, for affection.  Nothing ever changes for Ed, and it's hard to imagine that anything ever will. 
     But then one day, he sort of backs into stopping a bank robbery, which wins him his 15 minutes of local celebrity, and it's soon after that a mysterious playing card arrives in his mailbox.  Although, unlike his golden-boy younger brother, he never went the University route, Ed isn't stupid, and he figures out soon enough that every notation hand-written on the card represents a task that he must complete.  He resists at first, but eventually realizes that, for the first time he can remember, a force greater than himself is taking a hand in his life, and is not going to change its mind and walk away.  Ed accepts his fate and works his way through the tasks, even the most frightening one that he leaves for last, but as soon as he does, a second card arrives, via an outstandingly unpleasant delivery service...
     I think you should read this book.  And then read Zusak's other books, beginning with "The Book Thief," as I'm going to do.  And then continue with his latest, "Bridge of Clay," soon to be released by Knopf, and with whatever other books follow that one.  The one thing I can swear to you is that you will never, ever be bored.

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