Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: April 30th 2013
Synopsis: 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.
Anthem for Jackson Dawes is a novel with a lot of heart. It’s heartwarming, sweet, and very endearing. But, admittedly, I felt a bit distant from the story as a whole. I loved the characters and the plot, it just seems that I couldn’t put as much emotional investment in the story as I have done with others. I have been pondering about this for a while and I still haven’t come up with why I had this problem. This novel does have some really good qualities though.
If you read the first few pages, you will know that this is a story about a girl, Megan, that has been diagnosed with cancer, sent to the children’s hospital ward, and put on Chemo. And if you read even farther, you will know that Megan is in internal turmoil, and is scared for her future. Fortunately, there is a certain sunshine of a person called Jackson Dawes who might be able to give Megan the friendship and comfort she needs.
As you can see, this is a story about friendship and finding hope in the most unlikely places. I loved the story–even though I didn’t have a large emotional attachment– and breezed through the pages as fast as I could.
Megan Bright and Jackson Dawes were wonderful characters. I believe that they will be very easy to relate to, for many people, even though those many people have not suffered from cancer themselves. Megan does a lot of growing as the pages go on, and she felt like a real character to me. Jackson is a character filled with color and strange stories. I couldn’t help but smile when his name was written in a sentence.
The side characters were also very satisfying character-wise. We have the mysterious, adorable Kipper, the serious but compassionate Sister Brewster, the humorous, fun Siobhan, and the absolutely amazing Bright family. I loved reading about them all!
I did think that some of the moments that were supposed to make a person laugh fell flat. Not all of them, but some. Awhile this might only be a little thing among all the good things this novel has, I still found it bothersome. This little quibble is really only based on my sense of humor so those moments might make someone else laugh to pieces.
Bryce did an amazing job with the prose in this novel. It was engaging, readable, and had a certain lightness about it that made this story very addicting.
All in all, Anthem for Jackson Dawes is an great, strong debut novel, and I will certainly be looking out for Celia Bryce’s next books. Even though I did have some trouble with feeling connected to the story, this is very much worth the read since the good qualities that I mention are freaking good.
*An advanced copy was provided for review by the publisher via Netgalley