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Posted May 2, 2013
Anthem for Jackson Dawes broke my heart. It's bittersweet and took me on a roller coaster of emotions.
Cancer. It doesn't discriminate, and it is most cruel when it attacks ones we love. Or little ones. And in this story Megan finds herself in the pediatric oncology floor of the hospital and hearing her desribe the babies and toddlers crying, in pain and getting treatments effected me on a whole other level as a mom. But I really felt for Megan as well. She is not a whiny or pitiful narrator, and sure she has moments of why me and this sucks, but that just makes it realistic. She is strong and brave and deals with things as they come.
Then there is Jackson. He is a trouble maker, but maybe mischief is a better word? Nothing he does is to hurt others, it is all about adventure for him, and taking his and the other patients' minds off of the horridness that is happening to them. I loved his charisma that came through in the story and how he always had something to offer to others even when he himself is in so much pain dealing with the treatments and cancer himself.
Megan and Jackson's friendship that hints at more, a budding relationship is slow and I loved every second of it. I just wish there would have been more. I wished that Ms. Dawes had given us more insight into why it developed into more, given us a few more scenes before breaking our hearts. Is it just because they are the same age? The oldest on the floor? Because they both have cancer and understand what the other is feeling? It is okay if that is all, but the pages hint at more of a connection and I long to have seen that.
The secondary characters were really well done. Little Kipper had such heart and spunk. I love how she just showed up and was so trusting of the older kids. She didn't say a whole lot, but I grew to really care about her. Also, the nurse Siobhan and Sister Brewster (who I could never figure out if she was another nurse, or a chaplain type person since she was more strict with trying to keep Jackson from wandering). Both of them I applaud. I know they are fictional characters, but there are women just like them that see so many kids hurting, in pain, and dealing with the horrible disease. But they know what each patient needs--encouragement, a kick in the butt, coddling, etc, and they give.
The focus on the family is also nice. I liked how her mom was there for her. But I especially liked her relationship with her Grandad. It was all over the phone, but you could tell how much they care for another and I loved the character growth where Megan learned to respect and value his age and what that brings to the table.
My only complaint besides wanting more of Megan and Jackson is that the story jumps around a bit, and I wanted to have the filler, know what they were going through and how Megan came out of what she was dealing with stronger and a bit wiser.
This is such a sad book at times, but it is also sprinkled with laughter, light, hope and relationships.
Bottom Line: Emotional debut. Jackson stole my heart and Megan grew so much.
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