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{April 23, 2013}   {ARC Review} Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

14800331From Goodreads: 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.

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The title and synopsis of this novel basically foreshadows the dismal events that will transpire within the pages, but even so, it’s still a poignant look at the fragility of life, refusing to leave readers unscathed.  This is the story of cancer.  Of beating the odds.  Of watching good friends succumb. It’s a story of joy, heartbreak, and remembrance. Though relatively short, it packs a punch that will definitely leave readers reaching for the tissue box, even though much of the prose is clipped and choppy, jumping from scene to scene as Megan attempts to come to terms with her illness as it reshapes her entire life.

Though I personally was not a huge fan of the main character, and she wasn’t as developed as I’d have liked her to be, she is very true to life.  She’s also experiencing something completely raw, terrible, and emotional, and her attitude and disdain for those around her are more so a reflex and yearning for normalcy than a true rendition of her persona.  Hence, I hold nothing against her as she comes into herself, embracing her diagnosis and coming to terms with the very real possibility that she may die.  This is a novel that truly tugs at the heart strings and, I imagine, will be a very difficult read for parents, as it deals with kids and teens in a cancer ward.  Although choppy and uneven at times, my emotions were rubbed quite raw near the end, and I found it was indeed a great anthem for Jackson Dawes.  Three stars.

3 stars

Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on April 30.

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Jayne says:

This would be the kind of fiction I am interested in reading. One that touches on the reality of life. Makes me appreciate the life I have even the more.



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