It took me months but I finally finished Markus Zusak’s latest novel, Bridge of Clay a while back now. I loved The Book Thief when I read this a few years back so when I heard he was bringing this out, plus doing an event in Manchester I was really excited. We wrote a post on the event here. It was a brilliant time and I’m happy to say I loved this new book.
Though it took me a long time to read, it isn’t because I didn’t enjoy it. It did take a while to get into but mainly just because of the style of writing. It’s quite poetic which isn’t for everyone but I enjoy his style of it quite a lot. It reminds me of The Book Thief so I’m definitely a fan of his writing generally and not just in that. It’s also quite an odd narrative structure, jumping back and forth between years and people. Matthew, the narrator and oldest of the Dunbar boys, begins with quite an odd start which I think is another reason why it took me a while to finish. It did take me a few chapters to really get into it.
The characters were so detailed and felt so real that I truly felt like I had spent months with them (literally, it took me that long to read it). It’s one of those books where I felt like I was a part of the family. The Dunbar boys, their parents – I felt like I knew them personally. The storyline isn’t a very easy one to describe simply because there is simultaneously a lot going on but it also reads like a slice of life. It pretty much goes through their family history and their current lives. Clay is the main focus in a way but I think the parents and family also have a very prominent part – particularly their mum, Penny.
Matthew tells the story of Clay trying to fix the broken relationship between the brothers and their dad. The relationships between the different family members are fascinating. They are all so different and nuanced. My personal favourites, and two of the most moving, are those between Clay and his mum, and Clay and Carey Novak, his neighbour, close friend and love interest. The interactions between them are so beautifully written and you can feel how close they are to each other.
Towards the end, an awful, tragic event happens that you feel building for a little while and when it does happen it is ridiculously upsetting. Safe to say, I cried! I also cried during the last few pages because it felt so sad to leave this family and the story was just so tragic! Considering The Book Thief is the book I have cried the most at in my life, I’m not surprised his next book also made me sob a little!
I definitely recommend this book if you enjoy poetic writing and long books! It can be a bit of a slog but it is definitely worth it. I love introspective, slice of life, realistic books so if you’re also a fan of this, check it out!