Cover image for Bridge of Clay
Title:
Bridge of Clay
Title:
Bridge of Clay
Personal Author:
Publisher Info:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, [2018]
Physical Description:
537 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Pagination may vary.
Abstract:
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?

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On Order

Summary

Summary

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The unforgettable, New York Times bestselling family saga from Markus Zusak, the storyteller who gave us the extraordinary bestseller THE BOOK THIEF, lauded by the New York Times as "the kind of book that can be life-changing."

"One of those monumental books that can draw you across space and time into another family's experience in the most profound way." -- The Washington Post

"Mystical and loaded with heart, it's another gorgeous tearjerker from a rising master of them." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Devastating, demanding and deeply moving." -- Wall Street Journal

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?

Written in powerfully inventive language and bursting with heart, BRIDGE OF CLAY is signature Zusak.


Author Notes

Markus Zusak was born in Sydney, Australia on June 23, 1975. He began writing at the age of 16, and seven years later his first book, The Underdog, was published. He is best known for his young adult novels The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, both of which are Michael L. Printz Honor books. The Book Thief was adapted into a movie. His next book, Bridge of Clay will be published October 2018.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-An epic tale about grief, loss, and reconciliation. The Dunbar brood has fended for itself ever since their mother died from cancer and their father abandoned them. The five young men lead practically lawless lives in a ramshackle house filled to the brim with dirty dishes and stray animals. Their haphazard existence is interrupted by the return of their estranged father, who hopes to build a stone bridge with the help of his offspring. Clay is the only sibling who agrees to help. This hefty tome jumps across multiple time lines, from their mother's escape from Eastern Europe to her heartbreaking illness and from the father's abandonment to the present day, in which the eldest brother Matthew, now in his 30s, is recording their story on an old typewriter. Heavily influenced by the Homeric poems that the family enjoys, the plot is teeming with metaphors and episodic feats. Clay, the focus of the novel, takes on a mythic sheen in Matthew's recounting that will remind YA fans of Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee or Craig Silvey's Jasper Jones. The narrative becomes unwieldy in places because of the evocative prose, and sometimes the family saga is overpowered by various subplots. Even though bits of humor and one-liners leaven the work, the testosterone-infused dialogue may turn off some teens. VERDICT Give this to strong readers who enjoy weighty coming-of-age novels that blur the line between young adult and adult fiction.-Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

This exquisitely written multigenerational family saga by Zusak (The Book Thief), his first novel in 13 years, weaves the story of a missing father and a bridge-building brother. The five Dunbar brothers are beholden to only themselves after the death of their mother and abandonment by their father ("Our mother was dead./ Our father had fled"). Matthew, the eldest, puts their story to paper by way of "the old TW," a typewriter: "Let me tell you about our brother./ The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay./ Everything happened to him./ We were all of us changed through him." Slipping back and forth in time, the book maps a complex history: grown and married with two children, Matthew recounts their mother's immigration to the United States at age 18, their father's upbringing and first marriage, and young life in the chaotic, loving Dunbar household of five boys-then devastation after their father disappears. The deftly woven threads build tension as Zusak's skillful use of foreshadowing and symbolism brings long-held secrets to the surface. With heft and historical scope, Zusak creates a sensitively rendered tale of loss, grief, and guilt's manifestations. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Here are the five Dunbar brothers: reliable Matthew, the oldest and the eloquent narrator of this extraordinary book; incorrigible Rory; Puck, with a pair of fists; Henry, who with a talent for making money knows the odds; Clay, the fourth son and protagonist, is the best of us, according to Matthew; and youngest Tommy, the animal collector. Their mother is dead, and their father has fled, until, one day, he returns to ask for help building a bridge. Only Clay agrees to help, and their bridge quickly assumes symbolic value. Zusak (The Book Thief, 2006) offers up a narrative that is really two stories: one of the present, the story of the bridge and of Clay's love for the girl across the street; and the second of the past, occupied by the boys' childhood and stories that Clay loves The Iliad, The Odyssey. The tone is sometimes somber and always ominous, leaving readers anxious about the fates of these characters whom they have grown to love. Zusak pushes the parameters of YA in this gorgeously written novel: a character has scrap-metal eyes; rain is like a ghost you could walk through. In the end, it always comes back to Clay, that lovely boy, as a neighbor calls him. A lovely boy and an unforgettably lovely book to match. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A national author tour, insane marketing, and an initial 500,000 print run await Zusak's first novel since his critically acclaimed, best-selling The Book Thief. Expect another sensation.--Michael Cart Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

In this rollicking new novel by Zusak (The Book Thief), we meet the Dunbar boys: narrator Matthew; wild Rory; bridge builder Clay; Henry, the entrepreneur; and Tommy, the animal lover. The Dunbars' interactions bring to mind cartoons in which characters are locked together with fists flying and pain inflicted, and the narrative takes on big themes such as love, death, sin, abandonment, and redemption. After having left the boys on their own, their father, Michael, returns to ask for their help in building a bridge across a river. Only Clay rises to the challenge. Each chapter stands on its own, focusing on different characters, including Michael, from a small Australian town; the boys' mother, Penny, from Eastern Europe; and Carey Novac, an aspiring jockey and Clay's love interest. Invoking the Iliad and the Odyssey, the story creates its own larger-than-life mythologies. VERDICT Though the movement from one chapter to the next can be confusing-the novel would have benefited from more editing and tightening-Zusak just loves his characters (including the animals), and the reader will, too. Marketed for a YA audience in the United States but best suited to strong YA readers and adults.-Jacqueline Snider, Toronto © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

portrait of a killer as a middle--aged man   If before the beginning (in the writing, at least) was a typewriter, a dog, and a snake, the beginning itself---eleven years previously---was a murderer, a mule, and Clay. Even in beginnings, though, someone needs to go first, and on that day it could only be the Murderer. After all, he was the one who got everything moving forward, and all of us looking back. He did it by arriving. He arrived at six o'clock.   As it was, it was perfectly fitting, too, another blistering February evening; the day had cooked the concrete, the sun still high, and aching. It was heat to be held and depended on, or, really, that had hold of him. In the history of all murderers everywhere, this was surely the most pathetic:   At five--foot--ten, he was average height.   At seventy--five kilos, a normal weight.   But make no mistake---he was a wasteland in a suit; he was bent--postured, he was broken. He leaned at the air as if waiting for it to finish him off, only it wouldn't, not today, for this, fairly suddenly, didn't feel like a time for murderers to be getting favors.   No, today he could sense it.   He could smell it.   He was immortal.   Which pretty much summed things up.   Trust the Murderer to be unkillable at the one moment he was better off dead.   *   *   *   For the longest time, then, ten minutes at least, he stood at the mouth of Archer Street, relieved to have finally made it, terrified to be there. The street didn't seem much to care; its breeze was close but casual, its smoky scent was touchable. Cars were stubbed out rather than parked, and the power lines drooped from the weight of mute, hot and bothered pigeons. Around it, a city climbed and called:   Welcome back, Murderer.   The voice so warm, beside him.   You're in a bit of strife here, I'd say. . . . In fact, a bit of strife doesn't even come close---you're in desperate trouble.   And he knew it.   And soon the heat came nearer.   Archer Street began rising to the task now, almost rubbing its hands together, and the Murderer fairly caught alight. He could feel it escalating, somewhere inside his jacket, and with it came the questions:   Could he walk on and finish the beginning?   Could he really see it through?   For a last moment he took the luxury---the thrill of stillness---then swallowed, massaged his crown of thorny hair, and with grim decision, made his way up to number eighteen.   A man in a burning suit.   Of course, he was walking that day at five brothers.   Us Dunbar boys.   From oldest to youngest:   Me, Rory, Henry, Clayton, Thomas.   We would never be the same.   To be fair, though, neither would he---and to give you at least a small taste of what the Murderer was entering into, I should tell you what we were like:   Many considered us tearaways.   Barbarians.   Mostly they were right:   Our mother was dead.   Our father had fled.   We swore like bastards, fought like contenders, and punished each other at pool, at table tennis (always on third-- or fourth--hand tables, and often set up on the lumpy grass of the backyard), at Monopoly, darts, football, cards, at everything we could get our hands on.   We had a piano no one played.   Our TV was serving a life sentence.   The couch was in for twenty.   Sometimes when our phone rang, one of us would walk out, jog along the porch and go next door; it was just old Mrs. Chilman---she'd bought a new bottle of tomato sauce and couldn't get the wretched thing open. Then, whoever it was would come back in and let the front door slam, and life went on again.   Yes, for the five of us, life always went on:   It was something we beat into and out of each other, especially when things went completely right, or completely wrong. That was when we'd get out onto Archer Street in evening--afternoon. We'd walk at the city. The towers, the streets. The worried--looking trees. We'd take in the loudmouthed conversations hurled from pubs, houses, and unit blocks, so certain this was our place. We half expected to collect it all up and carry it home, tucked under our arms. It didn't matter that we'd wake up the next day to find it gone again, on the loose, all buildings and bright light.   Oh---and one more thing.   Possibly most important.   In amongst a small roster of dysfunctional pets, we were the only people we knew of, in the end, to be in possession of a mule.   And what a mule he was.   The animal in question was named Achilles, and there was a backstory longer than a country mile as to how he ended up in our suburban backyard in one of the racing quarters of the city. On one hand it involved the abandoned stables and practice track behind our house, an outdated council bylaw, and a sad old fat man with bad spelling. On the other it was our dead mother, our fled father, and the youngest, Tommy Dunbar.   At the time, not everyone in the house was even consulted; the mule's arrival was controversial. After at least one heated argument, with Rory---   ("Oi, Tommy, what's goin' on 'ere?"   "What?"   "What--a--y' mean what, are you shitting me? There's a donkey in the backyard!"   "He's not a donkey, he's a mule."   "What's the difference?"   "A donkey's a donkey, a mule's a cross between---"   "I don't care if it's a quarter horse crossed with a Shetland bloody pony! What's it doin' under the clothesline?"   "He's eating the grass."   "I can see that!")   ---we somehow managed to keep him.   Or more to the point, the mule stayed.   As was the case with the majority of Tommy's pets, too, there were a few problems when it came to Achilles. Most notably, the mule had ambitions; with the rear fly screen dead and gone, he was known to walk into the house when the back door was ajar, let alone left fully open. It happened at least once a week, and at least once a week I blew a gasket. It sounded something like this:   "Je--sus Christ !" As a blasphemer I was pretty rampant in those days, well known for splitting the Jesus and emphasizing the Christ. "If I've told you bastards once, I've told you a hun dred Goddamn times! Shut the back door!"   And so on.   Which brings us once more to the Murderer, and how could he have possibly known? Excerpted from Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.