Friday, April 5, 2013

Review: Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Anthem for Jackson Dawes
Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce
Megan Bright and Jackson Dawes are two teenagers who first meet each other on the hospital ward where they are both being treated for cancer. Megan is scared and worried about her illness, but Jackson seems to be an old hand, having been on the ward for ages. And everybody loves Jackson! He is a whirlwind of life and energy, warmth and sparkle. Megan will need to borrow some of Jackson's extraordinary optimism to face her and Jackson's future. A moving story of first love and a remarkably powerful debut novel.
Publishes in US: April 30th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: ARC from Bloomsbury for review
Series? No.

Buy it: Barnes & Noble  Amazon IndieBound

Find  online: site   twitter 

   Anthem for Jackson Dawes broke my heart. It's bittersweet and took me on a roller coaster of emotions. 
   Cancer. It doesn't discriminate, and it is most cruel when it attacks ones we love. Or little ones. And in this story Megan finds herself in the pediatric oncology floor of the hospital and hearing her desribe the babies and toddlers crying, in pain and getting treatments effected me on a whole other level as a mom. But I really felt for Megan as well. She is not a whiny or pitiful narrator, and sure she has moments of why me and this sucks, but that just makes it realistic. She is strong and brave and deals with things as they come. 
   Then there is Jackson. He is a trouble maker, but maybe mischief is a better word? Nothing he does is to hurt others, it is all about adventure for him, and taking his and the other patients' minds off of the horridness that is happening to them. I loved his charisma that came through in the story and how he always had something to offer to others even when he himself is in so much pain dealing with the treatments and cancer himself. 
   Megan and Jackson's friendship that hints at more, a budding relationship is slow and I loved every second of it. I just wish there would have been more. I wished that Ms. Dawes had given us more insight into why it developed into more, given us a few more scenes before breaking our hearts. Is it just because they are the same age? The oldest on the floor? Because they both have cancer and understand what the other is feeling? It is okay if that is all, but the pages hint at more of a connection and I long to have seen that. 
    The secondary characters were really well done. Little Kipper had such heart and spunk. I love how she just showed up and was so trusting of the older kids. She didn't say a whole lot, but I grew to really care about her. Also, the nurse Siobhan and Sister Brewster (who I could never figure out if she was another nurse, or a chaplain type person since she was more strict with trying to keep Jackson from wandering). Both of them I applaud. I know they are fictional characters, but there are women just like them that see so many kids hurting, in pain, and dealing with the horrible disease. But they know what each patient needs--encouragement, a kick in the butt, coddling, etc, and they give. 
    The focus on the family is also nice. I liked how her mom was there for her. But I especially liked her relationship with her Grandad. It was all over the phone, but you could tell how much they care for another and I loved the character growth where Megan learned to respect and value his age and what that brings to the table.    
    My only complaint besides wanting more of Megan and Jackson is that the story jumps around a bit, and I wanted to have the filler, know what they were going through and how Megan came out of what she was dealing with stronger and a bit wiser. 
    This is such a sad book at times, but it is also sprinkled with laughter, light, hope and relationships. 

Bottom Line: Emotional debut. Jackson stole my heart and Megan grew so much.

Side note of randomness, I know this has another cover, but I don't like it nearly as much as the one I featured up top.
Anthem for Jackson Dawes )Other Cover)
Books similar to Anthem for Jackson Dawes: anything Lurlene McDaniel, Girl Next Door by Castrovilla, Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe, Radiate by Marley Gibson, Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt, Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson

My question to you, my lovely readers:
If you were sick, could you start a relationship with another patient who could be terminally ill?


  1. That sounds so heartbreaking, kind of reminds of TFIoS. Will definitely read this, but probably when I'm in the right mind set. Fab review!

  2. I reeeeeeeeally want to read this. But I think I have to wait until I am in the right frame of mind because it sounds like a tearjerker. I'm glad you enjoyed it, even with some aspects missing for you. :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  3. That sounds so absolutely sad!!! :((
    And yes, the other cover is much better. Lovely review!

  4. This one sounds like it will break my heart. I don't know if I could handle the oncology unit.

  5. I...really think that this one will be awesome. Jackson and Megan both sound like rocking characters, and I think that I could handle the oncology unit-- but maybe only for a little while? It sounds like the secondary characters were good too. *applause* Lovely review, Brandi! (:

    Hmm. I think that I could, considering that we're both terminally ill, you know? But maybe not. O.O

    Megan@The Book Babe

  6. Sounds like a beautiful book. As for your question, if we were both terminally ill, that might make it easier. If it was just HIM, it would be difficult but you can't stop yourself from experiencing love for fear of pain.

  7. I've heard of this one, but I had no idea what the premise was. I'm def adding it to my TBR pile now!

  8. Haven't hear of this one, but I'm not sure about the whole cancer thing. I've read a lot of novels about it and while they are all emotional, it is somewhat getting to be overused. I probably would want to be in a relationship with another sick person, it would make it easier and make the time we had left even more precious.

  9. Jackson seems to have a great personality. Thanks for sharing.

    In relation to your question, hmmm... I guess when you feel there is nothing to lose and you want to live life to its fullest for whatever remaining days that you have, you'll make choices based on love/ passion in the moment. Very thought-provoking question! Thanks, Brandi :)

  10. Oh gosh, I don't know. But it does seem like the perfect time to not hold back, you know?

    This sounds like a really touching story. I'm glad you liked it!

  11. I'm not brave enough to pick this up yet (and I can be good at avoiding books about cancer), but I definitely like the sound of how emotional it is. Seems like the sort of book that leaves an impact. Brilliant review, Brandi!

  12. Despite wanting more time with the couple and more filler, this sounds wonderful, like the characters were fleshed out and the topic of cancer was handled well. Glad you enjoyed it *passes you a tissue*

  13. Glad you enjoyed this despite the jumping around. It sounds like an emotional read, but worth it! Lovely review :-)

  14. It's great when you have good secondary characters, I always like that! It sounds like a nice book. Great review!

  15. This does sound like a sad read, and I'm sure I will cry, but I do love emotional books like this! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, I plan on reading it soon!

  16. Great Review, I really want to read this. My goal is to get 100 followers before GR shuts down so I was wondering if you could give my blog a follow. Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

    - Sunny @

  17. This does sound like a good book to read, however, also sad. I love the sound of the characters, especially Jackson!! I don't know if I'll be brave enough to read it, maybe one day! But I am most definitely adding it to my TBR list!!

    Great Review!

    Magen Corrie
    ~Corrie the Book Crazed Girl

  18. Oh geez, I don't know if I could handle this one. I just spent the day having my daughter tested for a million things and cancer is SO in my head right now. Everything is clear so far, but still, it freaks me out. Anyway, this does sound like a really good book if it's read at the right time.

  19. I've never heard of this one before, but it sounds really sad, but really good. Awesome review :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  20. I don't think I'm quite ready for another cancer book. Just thinking about it makes me want to run and hide. But this sounds like a wonderful read and I love the focus on family.
    Beautiful review!

  21. This is one subject that I avoid, it's hit entirely to close for me, and I am not ready for books like that. I am glad that this was done very well and you enjoyed it. Wonderful review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  22. Sounds like a read that requires at least a box of tissues.

  23. I mostly steer clear of realistic fiction, and especially anything involving terminal illness. Glad you enjoyed it though, awesome review :)

  24. This book sounds like it's going to make me cry! But it also sounds like a really good book so I think I'll have to check this book out. Great review :)

  25. This actually reminds me a little bit about THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green! I haven't read either book yet, but it's encouraging to hear that you enjoyed this one, Brandi. :) I especially love how the author gradually develops Megan and Jackson's friendship into something more - definitely no insta-love here!

    I've got to check this out. Thanks for such a wonderful review, Brandi!

  26. Since it's an Anthem for Jackson it seems likely he doesn't make it. I don't think I can read it. Too many cancer books lately. Cancer doesn't discriminate. It's a horrible disease. And when it takes the young, it's even worse. This must have been hard to read. Great review!


  27. Great review! I had the same feelings as you when I read this book. There was such a wonderful opening there for a different type of letter. I really needed, wanted Jackson and Megan to tell us more about their friendship....I thought it left something out from this book that would have been beautiful , painful and honest. I almost want a novella to fill that missing beat. I think it still could be done.



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