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Sunday, March 31, 2013

ARC Review: Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

I feel like reading this book is like setting myself up for a painful heartbreak, but I still read it. I feel like rubbing the spot where my heart is when I finished reading.

Title: Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce
Release Date: April 30th 2013
Published by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Book Depository Affiliate Program
Buy: Book Depository


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.

I know what you're thinking. Two kids with cancer. At some point there will be death. It's inevitable. You might even think that this was straight out of a John Green novel, but Celia Bryce just made a little nick on my heart and it ached in a familiar yet different way. Crafting such powerful voices in both Jackson and Megan, Anthem for Jackson Dawes is such a worthwhile read.

Megan Bright was not a girl easily liked at the start of the story. Why does it have to be her who was sick? She was barely fourteen years old, a girl who just wanted to continue playing football and hang out with her friends and having cancer changes all of that. Now she's stuck in a children's ward, getting chemotherapy and meeting a boy that gets on her nerves for being too happy and full of life while she worries about the medication and if her hair is going to fall out. She met a boy named Jackson Dawes, and he changed her life.

Jackson Dawes, named after his grandfather who creates such wonderful music, is a boy with a knack for getting into troubles with the hospital nurses but is still loved by everyone. He makes the children with illness like his laugh and smile by telling them stories and getting them to hunt for a cat, Mr. Henry. He bugs Megan and tells her stories about his life and takes her for walks around the hospital. When Megan was scared, he was there for her, even when she's afraid of what chemo will do to her, when her hair starts falling out, when her friends start avoiding her because she's sick, Jackson was there and he shares Megan's pain and fears because he's just like her, only he didn't lose that brightness inside of him, not until the very end. Jackson fought a gallant, brave fight against the face of death.

What touched me the most and made my heart ached was seeing Megan cope and fight the battle against cancer herself. From when she was full of questions when she first found out she had cancer, my heart lurched a little at a time. Why does it have to be her? She's so young, she had so much to live for. Why does her life, or Jackson's life, had to be cut short when some people live to be a hundred? Why do they have to die? Why does she have to go through chemo and lose her hair, and see the friends she had made lose their own battles? Why did she survive? How will she live her life after all of it? Megan's and Jackson's voice throughout the story was hard to read, it was full of fears, pain and uncertainty, of unfulfilled promises and unrealized hopes but it's one that should be read and heard.

There were a lot of tears shed for this book. You expect to encounter a person's death at one point, given the theme of this book, but once it's there and you've read of it, it hurts you inside just the same. Jackson Dawes will worm his way through every single reader's heart without fail, and his life, though short, was well lived and the way it collided with Megan was a touching story that will bring a sad smile upon the reader once they have finished reading. It's a story that makes one think of life and how it should be lived a little more closely. Jackson presents the readers with such a valuable lesson: that life, no matter how short it will be, must be lived to the fullest. Appreciate it while you have it.

Such a moving and touching book, Anthem for Jackson Dawes is a bittersweet story of love and life. Celia Bryce did a wonderful job in writing a memorable book with such dynamic characters.

Content (plot, story flow, character):
I would have given this a five were it not for the way that Megan seem to have fall for Jackson which seems to be so abrupt and out of nowhere. She hated him for a while and suddenly she liked him? However, the friendship they shared and the bond they formed with each other was such a delight to read.
Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
I love the cover very much!


  1. OH. MY. GOD. This seems like such a heartbreaking book... I need to read it. It looks like the type of read that will definitely pull at your heartstrings. Great review, Kai!

  2. this is very lovely book,woh i need to read this book.

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