22 March 2013

An Anthem for Jackson Dawes

by Celia Bryce

Bloomsbury. Young Adult. Paperback RRP $16.95

By Sandy Fussell

I am in love with Jackson Dawes. Just like the nurses, the other patients and Megan, even though she doesn’t know it and certainly won’t admit it when she finally realises.

Jackson is a young teenager with a rare form of cancer. He’s full of life, hope and craziness. Most of the time.

But this is Megan Bright’s story. She meets Jackson in the cancer ward when she is hospitalised with a brain tumour. The children’s ward is full of ‘babies’ Jackson is the only other person her age. He’s the star of the show, the bane of the staff and the darling of the parents; obnoxious, charming and over-energetic. The younger patients are his fan club, following him around and hanging on his every word. Megan doesn’t want any part of it. She just wants to have the surgery and go home to her real life.

Jackson helps Megan adjust to the hospital, radiotherapy and even losing her hair. He tells her stories. When her friends are not there for her, Jackson helps her understand why and fills the gap.

This is a wonderfully uplifting story but it is also heart-wrenching. In a children’s cancer ward, there is always tragedy and sadness. Even together, Jackson and Megan are not immune. First love cannot protect them from their world but it can make them strong.

Powerful stuff.

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