While I adore Zusak's The Book Thief, I am focusing on one of his other novels today. For me, this novel is closer to my heart. The center focus of it is something many of us go through and for that, well, I love it.
The main character, Ed Kennedy, is an underage cab driver. He lives with his dog and his life seems to be going nowhere. Ed is somewhat complacent with the direction his life is going. Then Ed stops a bank robbery and his life begins to change when an ace from a play card deck arrives in his mail. Ed is sent on missions, to hurt or help as he is needed.
Throughout the process, Ed grows. He begins to realize what happens when we make choices, good or bad. He learns about the mistakes he has made, the assumptions he had about himself, well, they are all wrong.
Each message and note to him allows Ed the opportunity to do things he wouldn't have done before. He reaches out to individuals who have it far rougher than he does to comfort them, give them guidance, and set them straight. He becomes a person who cares about the people and world around him, and forgets to focus solely on his own misery.
It is an inspiring book. The way Ed begins to handle the darker side of life thrown at him really grabs hold of the reader. You meet Ed as a pathetic teen, who believes in nothing but continuing to work at his crummy job. But once he believes that someone believes in him, it all begins to change. Ed takes on an assertive tone, and finds the courage within himself to push the people around him-strangers or friends.
This is a novel I need to praise more and recommend. I think it is overshadowed by its brother (The Book Thief), but I cherish it a little more. I can relate to Ed and his struggle. Looking at this cover reminds me to be kind to the people around me and to help others as much as I can. It certainly is a message we all need to hear.
But the best part of my own copy is that it is signed, along with my copies of The Book Thief and Getting the Girl. Zusak came to my hometown about 3 years ago for a reading and to promote The Book Thief. I begged my mother to go with me, and she did. He was a great speaker and inspiring. He talked to everyone who came to his signing, and personalized messages in each book. All three of the books have their own special message. In this book, "Here's to coffee drinking dogs, barefoot shoes, and love..."
This is a novel that holds a special place in my heart. I hope you all pick up a copy at some point, and give it to a friend in need.