Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce (review copy) - 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. From Amazon UK
I picked up Anthem for Jackson Dawes thinking I was in for a really good, quick, sad read. Unfortunately, that's not really what I got.
Megan Bright has gone into hospital to get chemo for her brain tumour, only to discover she's being kept on a kids ward with babies and young children. The only other teenager on the ward is Jackson Dawes, who is constantly appearing when he's not wanted, annoying the hell out of her. But they may be the only people who can help each other through their time in hospital, the people they need most.
All in all, it was a sweet story, but it was just far too young for me. Megan is thirteen, almost fourteen, and she's so young, she annoyed me most of the time. She has cancer, and so you would expect her to be angry, but she mostly just teenage angsting over the most ridiculous of things. In a way, I suppose you could say that the cancer didn't cause her to grow up too quickly and lose what makes her a young teen, but I generally can't handle such young angsting. Also, later on, Megan moans herself about the things that her friends want to talk about that don't seem important any more, yet she still acts exactly the same. I just really didn't like her.
The tagline on the cover is wrong, in my opinion. This isn't a love story. Jackson and Megan don't spend enough time together to fall in love. It's a crush, they both fancy each other, but we don't get to know Jackson all that well. He's rebellious, he likes music, he likes making the little kids smile with made-up stories and wandering around, but that's about all we get. Considering his name is in the title, we don't actually see as much of him as you would expect. Most of it is just Megan's internal thoughts. So yes, there are feelings, but it's not a love story.
Finally, I would have expected more when it came to the medical side of things. They're in a hospital, and thee are drips, vomiting, wheel chairs, and operations, but we're not really told about very much of it. I wanted more about what they were going through, how they felt, but we didn't really get that.
All in all, I was pretty disappointed with Anthem for Jackson Dawes, but I would say it's more for the younger YA audience. It give enough info about cancer and treatment to make it believable but without scaring young readers, and the feeling between the two characters is quite sweet and innocent, perfect for younger readers. Just not really for me.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for the review copy.
Published: 3rd January 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Buy on Amazon US
Celia Bryce's Website