Book Review: Bridge of Clay

BOCTitle: Bridge of Clay

Author: Markus Zusak

Blurb: 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?


Review: Bridge of Clay is beautiful and heart wrenching. Reading it felt like the way you would watch this story happen to a neighbor down the street. I would recommend this book for people who are willing to tackle books that are deeply meaningful but not necessarily plot driven.



Characters/Voice: This story is by far character driven throughout the whole book. As a reader, you start to understand how much of what we are is made up from our ancestors. We are the continuation of a story of people who have come before us.

Clay is the reason for the title, and there is no other way it could have been. However, Clay is not the narrator–his older brother is. At first, you don’t understand why he is telling the story about Clay or telling you these memories. As the story unfolds, the narrative is pieced together. We start to understand how grief affected this family and why he puts these memories in the story.

Australian dialect and slang might be hard to navigate.

Pacing: It was paced more like an adult novel. You have to work for the first 100 pages to really fall into the authors groove, voice and style (just like the Book Thief.) But once you are in the world, you start to get a feeling for its characters and story, then the pay offs start rolling. Which feel worth it and like real life.

When I read authors like M. Zusak or F. Backman the world they create feels so real and the way you get to know the characters feels real. So, just as in real life, the pace takes a natural flow and you grow comfortable when you are in for awhile.

Plot: The plot moves around family and family history—a bunch of boys who have been abandoned and left processing trauma, grief, loss, and death. The story goes deep but you don’t understand the plot until really far into the story. Flash backs set up and serve to help understand the decisions of their parents.

Setting: The story takes place in an Australian city suburb & countryside. The descriptions are not overdone or cliché. It’s just enough to understand where you are and the culture you are in. The setting also helps readers to understand the story, for example, why the main character’s dad went to city when he was young and returned to country when he was old.

Themes: This story deals with universal and relatable themes such as forgiveness, loss, redemption, unexpected hope after brokenness, and family history.


Book Reviewer, Jenni Claar