- format: Kindle (Amazon)
- File Size: 1025 KB
- Print Length: 544 pages
- Publisher: Picador Australia (October 9, 2018)
- Publication Date: October 9, 2018
- Sold by: Macmillan
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07BF758BG
The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy - their mother is dead, their father has fled - they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world.
It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive.
A miracle and nothing less.
WINNER INDIE BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ABIA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019
My Take: not crime fiction
I've found this "review" hard to write, as I don't want to destroy your pleasure in reading the book, and assembling the story for yourself. So you'll excuse me if I tell you just enough to whet your appetite.
This was a "rites of passage" tale, centred around what a family goes through after the mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and how each member of the family copes, in their own way. After Penny's death, the father Michael finds himself unable to cope with bringing up 5 sons, and eventually deserts them leaving the eldest, Matthew, the narrator of the book, to provide the backbone of the family. There are some very challenging images and situations along the way.
But there is so much more to it than that. We leap around the stories of the family, learning what brought the parents together, and the legends that become part of the family folk lore. There are some animals that become part of the family and who could forget the mule Achilles, the first to triumphantly cross the river on the bridge?
The "bridge" element is in part actual and in part metaphorical. After 3(?) years, Michael, referred to by his sons as The Murderer, returns to visit to ask his sons to come to the country where he lives to help him build a bridge. Only one responds positively to that - Clay, the fourth son - and he becomes a principal builder of the bridge in the river bed near his father's house, and also the rebuilding the connections in his family.
It reminded me in many ways of work by Patrick White.
Initially I was going to read a paper copy of this title but the 544 pages were daunting and sent me scurrying to Amazon for a Kindle copy.
However, by the end of the book I felt that it was overly long and was tired of the fragmentation that the hopping backwards and forwards in time produced. I found the timeline hard to nail and really wasn't sure that I had sorted everything into the right order.
Don't let that put you off, but expect the book to be a challenge.
My rating: 4.3
About the author
Markus Zusak is the international bestselling author of six novels, including The Book Thief and most recently, Bridge of Clay. His work is translated into more than forty languages, and has spent more than a decade on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia.
All of Zusak’s books – including earlier titles, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, When Dogs Cry (also titled Getting the Girl), The Messenger (or I am the Messenger) – have been awarded numerous honours around the world, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers.
In 2013, The Book Thief was made into a major motion picture, and in 2018 was voted one of America’s all-time favourite books, achieving 14th position on the PBS Great American Read. Also in 2018, Bridge of Clay was selected as a best book of the year in publications ranging from Entertainment Weekly to the Wall Street Journal.
Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.