Review: Bridge of Clay

Posted October 11, 2018

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Bridge of Clay Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Published by Doubleday on 11th October 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Here is a story told inside out and back to front

Five Dunbar brothers are living – fighting, loving, grieving – in the perfect chaos of a house without grown-ups. Today, the father who left them has just walked right back in.
He has a surprising request: Who will build a bridge with him?

It is Clay, a boy tormented by a long-buried secret, who accepts. But why is Clay so broken? And why must he fulfil this extraordinary challenge?

Bridge of Clay is about a boy caught in a current, a boy intent on destroying everything he has in order to become everything he needs to be. Ahead of him lies the bridge, the vision that will save both his family and himself.

It will be a miracle and nothing less.

It’s been a long wait for a new book from Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief. The time has come though with Bridge of Clay, and it’s been worth the wait.

Bridge of Clay tells the story of the Dunbar family – 5 boys who have lost their mother and father and are raising one another at home. It’s narrated by the eldest of the Dunbar boys, Matthew. Flitting back and forth through time we gradually uncover the stories of the lives of the Dunbar family.

Matthew shares the story of the fourth Dunbar son, Clay. Typing it out on his late grandmother’s old typewriter, Matthew shares the tale that not only spans years, but continents too. It’s a tale in which animals, inanimate objects, and the Dunbars themselves take centre stage.

There’s love, loss, grief and passion. Where art and music act not only as a salve, but a source of pain.

It’s the story of brothers let loose alone in the world, scrambling to make sense of life, of brotherly love, fights and arguments.

There’s also a menagerie of animals, a female jockey and a murderer.

There’s death, there’s humour, there’s friendship and camaraderie.

Basically, there’s a bit of everything. Oh, and a bridge!

My Thoughts

I must admit, I wasn’t sure at first. It took me a wee while to get into this book but once I was drawn into the world of the Dunbar boys I was hooked.

It’s a slow, character-driven story that gradually leaks to the reader the history of the Dunbars, and Clay’s story and it traverses time and place. It’s packed with emotion!

I love the significance of the objects and animals in this book. How the mention of an inanimate object can draw us to a scene, a pieces of Dunbar history. These objects become like characters, as integral to the story at the Dunbar boys themselves.

As for the boys themselves, I loved their interactions. The dialogue and banter felt so ‘brotherly’, and yet their actions displayed their love for one another. I felt that each boy had something which distinguished him and made him become real to me.

While I must admit that I didn’t love Bridge of Clay on the scale of The Book Thief, this is a Zusak story that will also stick with me. It’s emotional, it’s real and it is family.

For me, it was a slow read but in the best possible way. I got to savour Zusak’s incredible writing skills and enjoy spending time with the Dunbar boys.

P.S. I warn you, there will be tears!