Which Book Has Given Readers A Split Personality?
The Bridge Of Clay is a 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.
Clay is at the centre of the Dunbar family. He is 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 Clay overcome?
Markus Zusak is one of Australia’s most successful exports. His 2005 novel, The Book Thief was, and still is, a significant bestseller worldwide. The Book Thief is a powerful and ambitious love letter to the written word set against the darkest chapter of modern history and a book I have placed in my top ten all-time favourites.
So, can you imagine my excitement when I discovered Marcus had written another book and one that took him 13 years to write? But please be warned, Bridge Of Clay is nothing like The Book Thief. It is a book I struggled to get through the first 100 pages of and I only continued as it was one of my book club choices.
According to a review on Goodreads: Marcus has his style, and I can appreciate it's not for everyone, but there's no doubt he's very skilful. He has his long descriptions, choppy sentences, clever metaphors. It's not usual, but still captivating. It makes you somehow curious to keep going.
Another Goodreads review states: At times it felt like Zusak deliberately went out of his way to make the story more confusing and difficult to enjoy. It's a painfully bright metaphorical wandering through the lives of five Australian brothers - Matthew, Rory, Henry, Thomas & Clay. The style is full of the kind of an overwritten description that doesn't quite make sense at times, but then other parts of the book, like the story of the parents are excellent.
And another review: The Bridge of Clay is very much a character-driven book, and although you're thrown into this story, right into a house with five brothers and given a tonne of information, you need to buckle up your seatbelt and keep going. I struggled with the first 50 pages or so and then suddenly it was 3 am, and I was sobbing. I could relate to these characters because, in all of them, I could see my own family, (I have four children). And the characters are perfect. These well thought out, flawed, realistic, Australian, funny, unique, brave characters came to life on the pages. They went beyond just being a character written in a book, Zusak gave them life.
Personally, I was confused in this book, more so in the beginning until I became used to the writing. The Bridge Of Clay is a book I will have to revisit time and again to get all of the parts that we miss at times. The book is life, it's death, and it's a family of both past and present. It's something I can't put into words; I feel it, which is why this book has given me a split personality. I had a love/hate relationship with it.
Hard work does pay off, however, and this is a beautiful book at times. As the story progresses, Zusak's characters start to work their way into your heart, and the pages slip past as you begin to discover just what has occurred. Little things like why the clothes pegs mean so much to Clay all become clear by the end. Tissues are required - there are several sombre moments.
But amongst the sombre moments, there are many fun times. These five boys lived together with many animals, including my favourite, Achilles the mule who wanted to be a part of the family and live in the house with the boys. And I loved the neighbour who comes to fix up the boys after their many fights, which is what can happen when five boys of individual personalities live together without any adult supervision.
It interested me the way each boy took on roles to suit these personalities, and I loved the way they all cared for each other amongst all the fighting. The Bridge Of Clay is a book about relationships and love. I finished it yesterday, and it is still buzzing around in my head, which can be a sure sign of a good book.
Overall, even though my relationship with the book was often clouded. I am happy I read it, and it is one that I recommend reading, but be prepared for hard work, oh and the tissues.
Purchase your copy from your favourite Indie Book Shop.
Carolyn (Caz) Rowland is a fashion designer, model, lifestyle blogger and professional Image Stylist. Caz is also a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching. Caz is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.