Review Blog

Mar 19 2013

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408827116
(Age: 12+) Megan Bright is a thirteen year old facing a big challenge. She has a brain tumour and needs several hospital admissions for chemotherapy. Her parents and grandfather are trying to put on a brave face and Megan feels she should do likewise, even though the experience is frightening. The ward to which she is admitted seems more suitable for little children with cartoon pictures on the walls, toys and crying babies. She is relieved to find there is at least one other teenager also having chemotherapy, Jackson Dawes.
Every body seems to love Jackson Dawes. He charms the young children and the nurses with his mischievous stories and rebellious disregard for rules. At first, Megan is determined to have nothing to do with him but it's lonely on the ward, away from friends. They share a common bond as cancer patients who are exposed to experiences that other teenagers never have to contemplate. Megan's world of school, football and friends fade into the background as she undergoes treatment and is replaced by life on the cancer ward. Gradually she learns to appreciate Jackson and comes to rely on his friendship and optimism.
Eventually Megan needs surgery while Jackson's cancer is so unusual the doctors are running out of treatment options. The challenges they face will change them forever.
This book is a sensitive and realistic portrayal of the lives of those suffering from chronic illness and the impact on family and friends. It is neither sugar coated nor maudlin leaving readers with a sense of hope, despite acknowledging the inevitability of loss. A story about first love under the most challenging circumstances, it will suit younger teens.
Tina Cain

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