“Bridge of Clay” by Markus Zusak: Book Review

Updated on June 13, 2020
Rose McCoy profile image

Rose is an enthusiastic writer and reader who publishes articles every Thursday. She enjoys all book genres, especially drama and fantasy.

What’s the Big Deal?

Bridge of Clay is one of those books you can’t help but have your eye on. After publishing lesser-known novels such as the Wolfe series and I Am The Messenger, author Markus Zusak rewrote his career as an author when 2005 introduced The Book Thief. The holocaust classic greeted rave reviews, multiple awards, and eventually a movie—but until Bridge of Clay came out, Zusak hadn’t written anything since. It took 13 years for him to do it, and 20 years of writing and rewriting, but finally Zusak has introduced his story about love—and its opposite—and what the term “family” really means.

Book Summary

Bridge of Clay takes place in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, in the ramshackle house of the five Dunbar boys. The boys live on their own ever since their mother, Penny, died of cancer, and their father split. The story revolves mainly around Clay, who is the fourth Dunbar boy and the one who was most affected by their mother’s death.

When the boys’ father approaches them one afternoon, long after he left, he asks if any of the boys would be interested in helping him build a bridge he plans to construct by his house. The boys refuse, but Clay later finds his father’s address and goes to help him, leaving high school, his brothers, and his old life behind.

Over the course of the months it takes to build the bridge, Clay rediscovers who his father is, and who his mother was. He learns about his parents’ childhood, and the secrets his parents never told. Clay finds the truth hidden beneath his family’s pain, and manages, at the same time, to build a bridge to the family that the Dunbars used to be.


Book Info
Author: Markus Zusak
Pages: 544 (US), 592 (UK & AUS)
Genre: YA fiction, domestic fiction
Rating: 3.8/5 Goodreads, 4/5 Common Sense Media
Release date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

To Read or Not to Read?

I recommend this book if:

  • You like wordy, poetic authors like Jodi Picoult or Anthony Doerr
  • You’re looking for a novel to really invest in
  • You have the patience for a long (but worth it) book with a somewhat confusing beginning
  • You enjoy a captivating storyline with characters that come from different countries
  • You have experience with loss or love

“She laughed and he felt her breath, and he thought about that warmness, how people were warm like that, from inside to out; how it could hit you and disappear, then back again, and nothing was ever permanent...”


Bridge of Clay is 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

“You could argue that Zusak has a tendency to overplay the theatrical illumination, as even the act of opening the fridge becomes a physical assault: ‘From nowhere there was light. It was white and heavy and belted him across the eyes like a football hooligan.’ But if The Book Thief was a novel that allowed Death to steal the show, its slightly chaotic, overlong, though brilliantly illuminated follow-up is affirmatively full of life.” —The Guardian

Markus Zusak, the book’s author
Markus Zusak, the book’s author


All in all, I think this book is definitely worth lending some time to. Its romantic descriptions and beautiful characters will make you want to read it again and again (if not only to understand it better)—both times I read it, I found myself crying when it was over, simply because it was over. It’s one of those books that, if you have the patience for it, you won’t soon forget the lessons it teaches. Like Clay does with the lessons he learns, you'll carry them with you for a long time.

If you're interested, you can buy the book here.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)