Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce – This is the first novel by Ms. Bryce who live in the UK.
The main character, Megan, has some kind of brain cancer (it’s not revealed right away) and the novel opens with Megan’s arrival on the pediatric oncology unit of the hospital. She does not care for this because, after all, she is almost fourteen. There are elephants on the curtains! Her elderly grandfather (he is 95) assures her that this is more “fun” then being with old grumpy adults. There is only one other teen with cancer in their wing, and they are friends of sorts. His name is in the title: Jackson. He is quite outgoing, and Megan wants him to be wrong when he informs her that he friends will not visit. He was not wrong.
Anyway, I need to do a bit of comparison to similar books (books about teens with cancer) I have read over the years. To do that, the comparison can be summed up with the following: It is better than Lurlene McDaniel’s books (example: Six Months to Live), but not as good as John Green‘s The Fault in Our Stars. I have read most of McDaniel’s books, just to note – and many of them when I was twelve and thirteen years old. And just to note an even older book in this type of genre that I read at age 12 or so, I think I like Waiting for Johnny Miracle by Alice Bach more than this book in some ways. (The characters seem more developed for one thing.)
I suppose part of my complaint is that the reader does not get to really know Megan very well. There is an air of detachment, to be honest, and throughout the entire book. As I read, I started to understand that Megan is trapping her feelings and thoughts in herself, and talking to no one, but it is difficult to see this at first. The remainder of the characters remain relatively undeveloped. Jackson himself comes partially “alive” as a character, but even with him, as the title character, I expected to get to know him a little more. Once again, there was a feeling of distance.
This book is definitely for young middle grade readers – ages 9 to 12 or so. I personally would have liked this book at ages eight or nine – I loved Angie and Me at age 8, for instance. (Here is my blog post on that book from 2008.)
Date Published: January 2013 in Great Britain; April 2013 in USA– by Bloomsbury.
Date I First Read Book: October 2013