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Bridge of Clay
Cover of Bridge of Clay
Bridge of Clay
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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 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...
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  • 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.


  • From the book

    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.




    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...

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 UnderdogFighting Ruben WolfeWhen Dogs Cry (also titled Getting the Girl), and The Messenger (or I am the Messenger) – have been awarded numerous honors 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 favorite books, achieving the 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.


  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 6, 2018
    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.

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2018

    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 Journa

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    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 1 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Wall Street Journal "This book is a stunner. Devastating, demanding and deeply moving, Bridge of Clay unspools like a kind of magic act in reverse, with feats of narrative legerdemain concealed by misdirection that all make sense only when the elements of the trick are finally laid out."
  • US Weekly "Markus Zusak crafts an unforgettable saga."
  • Time "In a complex narrative that leaps through time and place and across oceans, Zusak paints a vivid portrait of the brothers trying to regain their balance by keeping their family's story alive."
  • Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things "It blew me away."
  • M. L. Stedman, bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans "A captivating book with a mighty, fearless heart, BRIDGE OF CLAY is filled with characters to believe in and care about ... achingly moving, delightfully funny, and thoroughly uplifting."
  • The Guardian "If The Book Thief was a novel that allowed Death to steal the show . . . [its] brilliantly illuminated follow-up is affirmatively full of life."
  • USA Today "Deserves a place on the shelf with the Diary of Anne Frank . . . Poised to become a classic."
  • Washington Post "Absorbing and searing."

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    Random House Children's Books
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