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Anthem for Jackson Dawes – Celia Bryce

“Jackson Dawes
He’s as tall as doors,
standing
in his
battered old hat,
singing his
battered old 
songs,
slapping his fingers down the length of the sand like an upright bass.”

Jackson Dawes is an old hand at life on the cancer ward. When Megan Bright turns up she’s unsure of what shes meant to do, what life will be like and why she’s been put on the baby ward. Jackson is the only other person her age but his cheerful, mischievous manner is enough to put her off him; for now. Once Megan gets used to him though it would appear that his warmth and sparkle is contagious and Megan finds herself falling for him. However with chemo and operations on the horizon Megan will need to borrow some of Jacksons optimism to get them both through. 
Have you ever laughed out loud whilst your heart is breaking and you’re fighting back the tears? Anthem For Jackson Dawes is a book about two teenagers fighting their battle with cancer and yet it’ll make you do just that. Jackson’s sparkle isn’t just contagious when it comes to the other characters in the book but also to its reader and he had me suckered as soon as I met him. 
The story is a tough one. We are introduced to Megan as she is making her way through the ward which she will have to call home for a while. She is scared and worried about what everything means for her and her future and this happy, smiling, cute boy is really not helping matters, especially when her mum comments on how good looking he is. Megan isn’t on the ward to make friends, she’s there to get over the cancer as quickly as she can and get back to her old friends, school, and most of all the football team. Jackson isn’t going to let her get away though, he has his mind set on helping her settle in and he’s not the type to take no for an answer. Their relationship develops so much and so fast that he tries to kiss her after what can only be a few days, however its beautiful and heartfelt and I loved seeing it all develop. The pair of them understand each other so well because they are the ones going through this all and Megan’s life outside the ward barely feels livable without him. She longs for the days she can be back at the hospital and be with him and it’s hard to read sometimes, especially when the two can’t be together.
The characters make this book, they are so real and full of life, even when they aren’t. Megan is strong, even when she’s scared, for most of the book and when she becomes less so the change has such a huge impact on you as a reader. The ward sisters and nurses are so lovely and understand how hard it must be for Jackson and Megan but not enough sometimes and you really get that these two characters only really have one another for understanding. Jackson was easily my favourite character because he was just so alive, he jumped out from the page at me and I really loved him for it. It was so hard to see him after the operation he had and after other events which made him different. The relationship that he built with everyone on the ward was brilliant and there’s an amazing bit with him and another character, Kipper, which I adored. Kipper was probably my next favourite character and I really wanted things to be different or her. You could tell how much she meant to her mum and how much she understood everything, even though she was only 7 and that was so poignant.
Anthem for Jackson Dawes was a beautiful, heart breaking story. I cried more than once but laughed out loud even more because that’s what these character do to you. I loved the ending and thought it was  possibly more heartbreaking that the rest of the book but it was fantastic too. It is definitely a book that everyone should be reading, especially if you loved Before I Die by Jenny Downham or John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. 
Anthem For Jackson Dawes will be published on January 3rd by Bloomsbury. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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  • This sounds amazing, thanks for such a fab review! I think I will read this, I loved The Fault in our Stars and this sounds so moving 🙂 And I was wondering while I was reading your review, is this a book written in verse? Because you mention it was, but from the first line it sounds like a verse novel 🙂

  • Hey Cliona! Thanks got your comment, sorry I prob should have made It more clear, unfortunately the whole think isn’t in verse 🙁 but it starts and ends with a lovely peon about Jackson! 🙂 x