Ed Kennedy is the poster boy of ordinary. He’s a 19 year old card playing taxi driver in love with his best friend. Yet after he accidentally stops a bank robbery, he begins to get aces in the mail. And not the kind that would help him win at cards. Instead, they have messages written on them, and he decides, with nothing to lose, he’ll follow their directions and see what this hand has in store.
“My full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cab driver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city — not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I’m decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you. ”
This book is completely brilliant. I love it in every way. The characters, plot, style, and themes are perfect.
The book doesn’t really focus on any of the characters other than Ed. It’s in first person perspective, and the reader really understands Ed’s emotions and actions. We read his judgement of other people and quirky comments on daily life, which gives the book more humor and have a lighter feel to it. He isn’t a hero. He isn’t perfect. He is an ordinary loser. Someone who never left his hometown, no career, no girlfriend, no anything. He’s just there, which is the perfect part of it. The card dealer decides to pick a guy who is absolutely nothing. He’s middle ground. Not good enough or bad enough to be recognized, until now.
The plot is pretty simple. He does the task on the cards. But the thoughtfulness that goes into each assignment is amazing. He waits and watches and thinks until finally, he can deliver the goodness these people need. It ranges from saving a wife and daughter from an abusive husband to giving a single mother an ice cream cone. The dealers have an uncanny ability to watch for what every person needs, because it isn’t just the poorest or most helpless or most harmed people that need assistance. It’s everyone. The only problem is finding what they need and people who are willing to do so.
Markus Zusak has a very unique voice. It’s apparent in The Book Thief as well that he can write in whatever situation or point of view and undertake the task beautifully. Ed has the right amount of sassy and sadness and sarcasm to make him average and quirky at the same time. And it isn’t only the characters that Zusak’s style is apparent in. The book is a deck of cards with 4 suites and 13 parts of each suite. Everything, the plot, the theme, the setup, is well thought out with no holes and interesting twists.
The book moves at a good pace, and no part is ever boring or predictable. The dialogue is realistic and funny, and the whole book is so poetic. But, it’s also a quick read. First of all, you never want to put it down, and he also makes it so it isn’t hard to read, yet it’s full of philosophical questions and heavy themes. It will make you laugh and cry and throw the book across the room and have your eyes moving at incredible speeds, so fast they just may spin all the way around your head. Seriously. It’s fantastic.
And, can I just say it has the most interesting first chapter of just about any book I’ve ever read? Zusak hooks you immediately, and there’s no going back.
I could probably rave for hours about this book, and as I’m writing this, I really want to read it again to pick up on all the stuff I missed. It’s just that good. And I’m not that fond of rereading, but I’d read this again in a heartbeat.
Quotes (basically, the whole book):
- “Big things are often just little things that people notice.”
- “Have you ever noticed that idiots have a lot of friends? It’s just an observation.”
- “‘Look, son,’ the cop says. He looks up from his papers. ‘There’s no need to get shirty with me.’ He’s got a beer gut and a graying mustache. Why do so many cops feel the need to own a mustache? ‘Shirty?’ I ask. ‘Yes, shirty.’ Shirty. I quite like that word.”