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
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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.
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.
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?