Book Twirps's Reviews > Anthem for Jackson Dawes

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce
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really liked it
bookshelves: earc-for-review

Fourteen-year-old Megan Bright isn’t happy that she’s stuck in a children’s ward to undergo treatments. It’s bad enough she has a brain tumor, but now she has to spend her days with crying toddlers and hyperactive children. The only other teen in her area is a slightly annoying, but kind of cute guy named Jackson. Though Megan tries, it’s hard to resist Jackson’s bright personality. He’s an old pro, having undergone several cancer treatments himself. His love of music and stories will hold Megan up, comforting her when she needs it most. But when you’re dealing with cancer, nothing is certain, and keeping a positive attitude is important if you want to make it through the heartache and uncertainty.

This book is very character driven. The plot is pretty basic, and at first glance, one that is pretty familiar, especially if you’ve read The Fault in Our Stars. Girl gets cancer. Girl meets boy who also has cancer and they develop a relationship that is filled with hope, and the ever-present fear that one of them won’t make it.

Megan was a very believable character. She’s only fourteen, so she’s still learning who she is. The whole brain cancer ordeal forces her to face life’s curveballs a little too soon. At fourteen we’re just starting to come into ourselves. At fourteen you should be starting to date, thinking about your first kiss, and trying to survive high school — not staring mortality in the face. It was all pretty overwhelming for Megan, and I felt the author handled her reactions believably.

I also liked Jackson. He was quite the character, and always made the most of every situation. They referred to him as a sort of pied piper to the other children in the ward. He was always the center of attention and someone the kids flocked to. His energy and charisma kept many of them afloat during their ordeal.

The rest of the characters are all great as well. Megan’s parents are both sympathetic, and I loved her ninety-six-year-old grandfather.

I was a little hesitant to pick up this book. On one hand, I’m a sucker for this type of story, but after reading The Fault in Our Stars, no other cancer book has been able to measure up. I was afraid this one would be a bad knock-off, and it could have been, but I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, the basics are there, but it felt different. I loved how the author handled Megan’s situation and her reactions. At fourteen, she’s dealing with a lot. Things change when you find out you have cancer. There’s the threat of days, weeks, months or even years of illness, and no guarantee that you’ll come out on top, or that the illness will ever end. Even if you do come out of it in remission and with a positive prognosis, your life is different. You’re changed, and life takes on a different meaning.

The one thing that felt off to me was the structure. Most of the book takes place in the hospital, so there are several jumps in time as Megan comes back for more treatments to shrink the tumor and eventually for the operation to remove the tumor. While I didn’t really feel like I missed anything, it seemed a bit jumpy (for lack of a better word).

While not as powerful as “that other YA cancer book”, I did enjoy Anthem for Jackson Dawes. It asks a lot of important questions, and it makes you feel something. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of this type of book.

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Reading Progress

March 1, 2013 – Shelved
March 1, 2013 – Shelved as: earc-for-review
April 12, 2013 – Started Reading
April 13, 2013 –
page 127
April 13, 2013 – Finished Reading

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