Bridge of Clay

Let me tell you about our brother

The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay

Everything happened to him

We were all of us changed through him.

I had long been waiting for the release of Markus Zusak’s next book, Bridge of Clay and snapped it up as soon as it appeared in the bookshops.

Bridge of Clay is narrated by Matthew, the oldest of the five Dunbar boys, and tells the story of the second youngest, Clay.

The Dunbar boys have not had an easy life with a mother who died a long and painful death and a father who, in his grief, abandoned his family.

It is Clay that takes the first reconciliatory step towards bringing the family back together through storytelling, a piano, books and a typewriter.

But underneath Clay is carrying a dark secret that if shared could lead to an understanding and reunite the family.

Matthew’s voice is unique and while some readers may find the broken rules of grammar and punctuation hard to stomach it suits the character well. The story is also told in flashbacks and while this works most of the time, occasionally I lost my way as it flip flopped a bit.

This is a beautifully told story rich with the symbolism of bridges, water, life and death. It follows the typical, gorgeous lyrical writing that is now Markus’ trademark style. There were many lines and paragraphs that were so poetic I had to read them over and over.

Just like in the Underdog series Markus once again delves into the somewhat complicated world of brothers as they come to grips with what is right, wrong and how to understand and forgive at the same time leaving their boyhoods behind and becoming men.

Behind it all is the one thing that shapes and centres their lives – women; their mother, Penelope, Clay’s first love, Carey, and the developing relationship between Matthew and Claudia.

The ending was superb. I would’ve wanted to know how the boys’ lives played out in the future and Markus wraps it up beautifully.

Told with a mix of humour and taut rawness that cut to the bone, Bridge of Clay was one of those books I couldn’t put down.

It took 13 years for Markus to write this book and it was worth every moment of waiting. I just hope it doesn’t take him another 13 years to write the next one.