Keep Your Hair On, by Elizabeth Vercoe

Jess half smiled. The beanie comments would be sure to come thick and fast all day. Jess just hoped and prayed that no one would be stupid enough to pull it off her head. She wasn’t quite ready to share her new look with the rest of the world. Not yet.

Jess is sixteen and in year eleven at school. Last week she kissed a boy for the first time. This week all her hair is falling out. She has cancer, and if Dylan finds out, he might drop her. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably feel sorry for her, which is worse. Can she keep Dylan AND keep the cancer a secret?

Keep Your Hair On is a story of sickness, friendship, and family. Jess is a likeable and believable teen trying to stay normal at a time when life is anything but. Her family – an absentee father, a slightly crazy, but well-meaning mother, and a younger bother who, as the story progresses, has troubles of his own – and her friends – Sarah, who is a supportive, if zany friend, and Charlotte, who doesn’t cope with Jess’s illness – make up an interesting cast.

Whilst the subject matter sounds grim, this is not a dark book. It is honest and very readable, mixing humour with the realities of dealing with a serious illness. A good read.

Keep Your Hair On, by Elizabeth Vercoe
Black Dog Books, 2003