Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak


The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance.

At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle.

The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?

My review

Markus Zusak’s writing is poetic with a unique style. I was drawn into the life of the Dunbar boys within the first few pages. The suspense and mystery intrigued me from the beginning. Zusak’s choice of vocabulary often intrigued me too, encouraging me to read on.

The structure of the book is almost random, yet is clever in execution. Bridge of Clay is structured in a way that provides clues and important information for the reader to gain an insight into the lives of Penny, Michael and their sons. Penny’s past before having children is very interesting. Her and Michael both experienced vastly different lives prior to their story, however, they are brought together when Penny’s piano lands at his door. The story revolves around their sons, the Dunbar boys, who have emotional scars due to feelings of grief and abandonment.

Music is a huge part of the Dunbar family’s lives, thanks to Penny and her piano. Penny’s story kept me on the edge of my seat, in particular, her days in which she was referred to as the Mistake Maker. Her relationship with her father was that of true selfless love, as he sent her away to a better life.

Zusak’s raw portrayal of the emotions and feelings of the characters allowed me to connect with each character. I love the honest characterisation and descriptions of this particular family. Penny, in a house full of boys soon takes on their rough and tumble ways as they grow up, whilst they are influenced by her love of music and books.

The only reason I chose to give this book 4·5 stars was that at times I felt that the story was quite slow. I loved that the narrator, Matthew describes his and his brothers’ everyday lives. The novel made me reflect on how we can all find joy and rediscover ourselves through the simplest of moments. There was a lot to learn from this novel and I gained a further appreciation for life as I read the tragedy, courage and strength of the Dunbars.

Did you enjoy The Book Thief? I loved it as I did this novel. They are very different, yet Markus Zusak seems to have drawn me in each time.

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