Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Anthem For Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: ARC
Published: 3rd January 2013

Number of Pages: 240
Book: For Review*
Genre: Contemporary, Coming-Of-Age, Realistic-Fiction, Romance, YA, YA-Child Crossover
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Death
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Site: Celia Bryce

When Megan Bright arrives on the hospital ward for her first cancer treatment, there is only one other teenager there: Jackson Dawes.  He is cute, rebellious… and Megan finds herself falling for him.
Megan is scared and worried about her illness but Jackson seems to be an old hand, having been on the ward for ages.  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.

The other day, I went on a roller coaster.  It was a vertical drop one and I was feeling slightly queasy.  I looked at my dad and asked "Why do we do this?"  It was then the ride started.  The feeling of exhilaration was intense.  As we were getting off I said, "Yeah.  I remember now."
That's what these heart-breaking books are like for me.  They break my heart every time, sometimes so hard I'm in shock for ages.  But these books are so string and powerful and emotional - so real and overwhelming.  So, yes.  They're heart-breaking.  But they also make you feel so much more.  They fill your heart to bursting.  They fill you up with so many emotions ‘til you explode in a fit of feeling.  
Anthem For Jackson Dawes?  It should be these books' poster child. 
“He had a huge laugh, which he must have kept for the ward, or maybe just the little ones.  You could always hear him.  Like everything was a joke.  Like this wasn't a ward full of cancer patients trying to dodge the bigger thing....”
It’s bad enough that Megan Bright has cancer.  So why does she have to be treated on a ward full of babies?  She isn’t a baby – she’s a teenager!
And then Jackson Dawes runs right into her – actually, literally runs into her.  He’s the only other teen on the ward and everyone loves him.  Even Megan’s own mother!
But as life on the ward and chemo take its toll, Megan finds herself drawn towards the bright light that is Jackson Dawes.  Especially as he’s the only one who understands what’s happening to her.
As the two grow closer, both will need every ounce – and more – of Jackson’s light to face their oh-so uncertain future…
Ever since reading Before I Die, I’ve kind of steered clear of cancer books, thinking none of them could possibly live up to one of my all-time favourites.  But after reading Anthem For Jackson Dawes, I’ve been made to rethink that.  Anthem For Jackson Dawes blew me away.  It was emotional and addictive and beautiful.  So, so beautiful.  I couldn’t stop reading, even when I was such an emotional mess I could barely see the pages.
Bryce’s characters were just out of this world.  Completely.  Megan Bright – may I quickly say: yes a fictional Megan!  She’s only the second Megan I’ve come across, and the only one whose name is spelt the same as mine!  Apparently, Megan isn’t a popular name…  But back to Megan Bright.  Well.  She was an amazing, amazing character.  Her reaction to the diagnosis was so genuine and believable.  I loved her snark and spirit, her fight and bravery.  She was such a strong and real character, someone you could love and hope for.  As for Jackson Dawes – oh how I saw why everyone loved him!  He had this charm – I actually felt myself melt around him!  It’s almost impossible not to smile when he’s in a scene!  God, he killed me.  Like actually killed me.  He was the sweetest thing, the cutest thing, the hottest thing.  I absolutely and totally adored him.  Then there was little Kipper, who was such an amazing character: she was so, so young but way older than her years, with so many troubles and “worries”.  I could just see her in my head, the delicate little pixie-like girl who was so completely breakable.
And I adored the relationship between Megan and Jackson – it was so real, so warm, so touching.  I just wanted more and more of it, of them.
The writing was beautiful.  It was like I could see everything in my head so, so clearly.  Bryce perfectly captured the pains, the highs and lows, the bitter sweetness of the first love, in her writing.  It was heart-breaking.  Completely heart-breaking.  And so, so beautiful – the kind of writing that gets under your skin, hovers in your head.  The kind of writing that just stays.  Now, I don’t know what to say about the storyline that won’t give everything away.  Needless to say, the majority of the book had me fearful of everyone’s fate – so fearful I had to stop reading for a little whole to pull myself together.  And by the end?  I was a totally mess with mascara streaks.
But my God, these damn books that keep making me cry!  Ok, so the huge mess of emotions is the sign of an amazing book.  But why do I keep reading them?!  Because it’s so amazing, reading these books that tell me of things I couldn’t possibly imagine myself and making me feel these things as if they were happening to me.  And man did this book make me feel: just feel, feel, feel, feel until I thought my heart would explode – especially right at the end…
A beautiful, bittersweet story of love, loss and the hardest fight there could ever be.  It had me laughing and smiling and loving.  And at the end, it had me bawling my eyes out.  The only thing I’m glad of is that I waited to read it until I came home from an outing – I looked a total mess!  This story is special and beautiful and dreadful.  It's a Before I Die for younger readers.  And these readers must read this book.  It is the perfect book to read, a book to make you think and feel.  A book to get you love and mourn.  A book to make you feel.  These emotions are so real and so perfect, even if they do leave you raw and sad and strangely happy too.  A life affirming book. A book that will make you love til it hurts, break your heart and then help you pick up the pieces.  Perfection.   And all of you, no matter your age, have to read it.

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
The Fault In The Stars by John Green
Eleven Eleven by Paul Dowsell
My Sister Lives On The Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review


AwesomeAmy said...

I own this on my kindle but haven't read this ~ thanks for the review! I don't really read sad books but I strangely feel like not being able to see the pages due to tears is a relatable feeling. And its not too bad either- hopefully the light on the kindle might shine through the blurriness that is sadness.
Thanks for reviewing! :D

Shoshanah said...

Slightly off-topic, but I know so many Megan's in real life, but I can't really think of a Megan in a book. Definitely interesting that such a popular name isn't included in more books.

Brandi Kosiner said...

I really like this one too, esp their relationship. It broke my heart as well.
'Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Girl!Reporter said...

Really intrigued by your view of the book. I thought Anthem for Jackson Dawes was okay, but the way you felt about it was the way I feel about John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Have you read that?