You would like this book if you liked: The Book Thief, All the Light We Cannot See, & Little Fires Everywhere
Bridge of Clay is a novel about the intricacies of relationships, love, loss, and the bonds that make a family a family — specifically between five brothers. Zusak tells the story of a family torn apart by a mother’s death and a father that has abandoned his sons. When the father suddenly returns to ask for help building a bridge, only one son, Clay, comes to help him. But Clay has the entirety of his past to work through; stories from his mother to his budding love story with the girl across the street. Written from the perspective of the oldest brother, Micheal, many years later, Bridge of Clay is a poetic, character-driven portrait of a family across generations.
It’s easy to see why it took Zusak 13 years to write this novel. Bridge is a poetic 530 pages that can take a while to settle into. It wasn’t until around page 100 that I got into a comfortable rhythm and understood the characters enough to appreciate what was happening. The writing felt like a mosaic; different stories coming together to their conclusion. The end of the book has a soft climax; you’re not reading it to get to the big ending. Rather, the book is focused on Clay resolving his own demons and relationships by putting his heart and soul into building a bridge. The novel itself has a lot of unique components to the world of the story, including horse racing, piano playing, strange pets, and Greek mythology. The scape of the storytelling is huge, which is why it’s such a massive book. Overall, the characters are compelling and distinct and their individual stories are touching. By the middle of the book, the novels’ storyline begins to make sense.
Bridge of Clay is written in a way that only Zusak can accomplish to this scale and depth. However, there were points where I wished for more plot. The novel itself is a massive undertaking and took me nearly three weeks to get through. You have to be incredibly dedicated to pushing through the novel for the first half of the book. It’s a beautiful read, but there were points where it could have used a little push.
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