I couldn’t sleep last night and finished up the Markus Zusak novel. Some of you may be familiar with The Book Thief, which was released in a film version this year. That movie is on my list, but I haven’t had an opportunity to watch it yet. What I loved about Thief, besides being a good story and well written, was that it was narrated by death. There are other books out there that are narrated by death, and I always find them fascinating. Maybe I should do a blog post on that…hmmm.
Anyway, Thief was one of those books that is a great read, but you vow never to read again. It is just too emotionally and psychologically draining.
This one isn’t narrated by Death though. It is narrated by Ed.
Ed Kennedy (no relation to the family considered American Royalty) is an underage taxi driver. He is 20 and his dad has died recently. He is just a normal guy. One of those who graduates and doesn’t really do anything. Gets a job. Lives in the same town, and hangs out with the same friends as he always has.
The novel starts during a bank robbery. Ed and his friends are in the bank as it is getting robbed. The opening line is,
“The gunman is useless.”
Yeah, I agree. A great opening line. In the course of this robbery Ed shows a bit of bravery. This is, apparently, what starts to complicate his life.
He starts to receive cards in the mail. Not Hallmark cards, but playing cards. Aces to be exact. The first one is diamonds. Each card has clues, addresses or people that he needs to find. Once he figures out who it is, he has to figure out how to help them somehow. He is leaned on pretty heavily to finish these tasks, or messages. Some require violence. Some require kindness. Some require generosity. All require creativity of some sort. Ed starts to change…you can imagine.
I really enjoyed this book. It actually surprised me a few times, which is a hard thing to do when it comes to novels and plot twists. Ed and his friends are likable, even lovable. Especially The Doorman.
Let me share one particular scene with you. Ed’s mother treats him like crap. She looks at him as being just like his father who, in her mind, was a useless drunk who broke his promises to get her out of her crappy little town. Out of this crappy little life. She abuses him abominably.
On Christmas Day it boils over. Ed stands up for himself, something he doesn’t normally do with his mom. As he is leaving he says to her, “It’s the person, Ma, not the place. If you left here, you’d have been the same anywhere else…If I ever leave this place…I’ll make sure I’m better here first.” Truth. It does hurt sometimes, no?
As Zusak wraps up the story and ties up his loose ends I find myself being frustrated with him. He is confusing me. I have more questions. It doesn’t make sense. The last chapter I’m ready to write a review about a book that showed great promise, but was ruined by the ending. (The way many people feel about Gone Girl I hear.)
However, the last two lines saved it for me. They are really great ending lines. Thoughtful, and thought provoking. Just like the story. Read it. You need to read those last two lines.