About the book
Anthem for Jackson Dawes is a stand-alone contemporary young adult novel by Celia Bryce. The book was published on 3rd January by Bloomsbury and the book is 240 pages long.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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.
What I thought
I love a contemporary young adult novel so was pleased when Anthem for Jackson Dawes turned up from the publisher. However, reading the synopsis also made me really weary due to the subject I was about to read about.
Protagonist Megan Bright is a young girl with cancer. She doesn’t really know how to cope with that fact and she is pretty much hoping it will just go away. However, once she is admitted to the hospital, on a children’s ward for patients with cancer, it all becomes much more real. As soon as she steps foot onto the ward, she immediately wants to go home. As a children’s ward, it is decorated for the younger children, with big, bright elephants everywhere. Megan doesn’t think of herself as a child and is dreading being stuck with little kids. More than anything though, she hates how having cancer has completely ruined her life. She just wants to hang out with her friends and have fun again.
Although a children’s ward, there is another teenager battling cancer. Jackson Dawes is a bright and colourful character and someone who lights up the children’s ward. Jackson was a pretty special character for me. Although he obviously had cancer, he didn’t seem to let it get to him. He spent most of his time making the other patients happy, cheering them up or generally making the ward a more fun environment to have to be in. However, as this is a short book, I didn’t feel as though I got to know Jackson nearly enough. As Megan is the main character of this book, more time is spent with her and what she is going through. I think I would have quite liked if this book had been told through a dual narrative so I got to know Jackson better.
The same goes for other characters in the book really. Even though Megan is the protagonist, I don’t feel as though I got to know her well enough either. While she does develop, it wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted her to. While it was clear that meeting Jackson had a big impact on her life, I still wanted more. I wanted the two characters to be able to spend more time together and for each of them to develop. There was also some wonderfully written minor character who again, we just didn’t get to see enough of to make them as good as they could have been.
However, although I had problems with the characters, the story was very emotional. I’m sure you can imagine that some bad things happen over the course of the book and I did cry a little bit. I can only imagine what a mess I would have been if the characters had been more developed or if the book had been longer. With such a big issue being tackled, Celia Bryce does attempt to lighten things up a bit though with some much needed humour and adventure. To take their minds off their problems, Megan and Jackson explore the hospital even though they’re not supposed to. This was also a really good way of giving the book more scenery.
Unfortunately, Anthem for Jackson Dawes was a bit of a mixed bag for me but it was a nice short read.