Monday, 31 December 2012

Review: Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Title: Anthem for Jackson Dawes
Author: Celia Bryce
Author Info: Website|Blog
Source: Publisher
Format: Proof
Publication Date: 1st January 2013

Tell Me About It
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.

My Thoughts
Just from the synopsis alone I knew before starting Anthem for Jackson Dawes that it would be an emotional book, and I purposely left it till I was off work for Christmas, knowing I would not be able to read it in work without sobbing my heart out.  I just never realised how much of an emotional roller coaster ride it would be.

The protagonist, Megan, was easy to like and believable in my eyes.  The feelings of loss and sadness that she portrays made me feel like it was myself being left in hospital without an family.  While her first impression, and her second and third, of Jackson weren't good, they soon become firm friends and I enjoyed getting to see this duo interact with each other  especially as they spend more time together.  From the get go I loved Jackson.  He is honest about what happens, especially regarding friends, and isn't afraid to tell Megan the truth, rather than let her believe in the promises of friends, and that was one quality I instantly liked about him.  He cares for the younger patients and is like a big brother bear to them.  Cancer isn't a nice thing, either to the family or to the person who is dealing with it, but Jackson is so up beat and has a good attitude about it all that others around him can't help but be drawn into his cheerfulness.  He makes the hospital a  nicer place for others, whether its good or bad for himself.

I don't want to say too much about Anthem for Jackson Dawes, as it's one you need to read yourself.  One part that I thought was a very poignant moment involved Megan and Jackson, and I am glad that he was there to support and help Megan thought this moment, being the voice of reason, telling her how it is, but also being a shoulder for her to cry on.  I was an absolute wreck after reading this bit, but rather than stopping and putting the book on hold I carried on reading, knowing that either way I would still cry.
Megan watched as everything about her, everything that said who she was, slid down her shoulders and cascaded to the floor, like leaves shaken from a dying tree.
[Page 125 UK proof]

Celia Bryce gets to your emotions, hitting all the right places to make you fall in love with each character, laugh at their humour and cry at their sadness. The fear and worry over treatments and operations feels like it is you sitting there with them.  Anthem for Jackson Dawes is a book that will stay in my memory for a long time, it deals with cancer in a truthful and realistic way, and while I personally do not know what if feels like to go through it myself, I have seen the after effects and they are portrayed perfectly, but compassionately by Celia.
I am lost for words with what else to say about Anthem for Jackson Dawes, I am writing this after just finishing reading, while I comfort myself with chocolate and I can't get over how powerful his book is.

Anthem for Jackson Dawes is a must read for anyone.


  1. Nice review Michelle. We got this at the book shop a few days ago and I did look it over. My problem is I'm not allowed to buy any books until I've read what I already own. Not sure how I'll cope!!

  2. Amazing isn't it? I read it a while back and was heartbroken by it, loved every page though!!


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