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

The Grief Book, by Elizabeth Vercoe with Kerry Abramowski

Grief is like manure:
if you spread it out it fertilises.
If you leave it in a big pile,
it smells like hell.
(Thomas Golden)

Everybody, the introduction to this books reminds us, experiences grief. It is a necessary part of life and, as such, can’t be avoided. But not all of us know how to deal with that grief, and this is very important. So, in this wonderful offering, author Elizabeth Vercoe and consultant Kerry Abramowski, offer a bag of strategies for dealing with grief. From simple things to recognising that you are grieving, to more momentous things like attending a funeral, the book is full of practical, honest suggestions for moving through grief.

The book is aimed specifically at young people, but will speak to those of any age experiencing any kind of grief – adjusting to illness, coping with the death of a loved one, dealing with a divorce, the list is endless. The text is accessible and realistic, coming from people who know about grief: Vercoe is a survivor of Hodgkin’s Disease and Abramowski has worked with young cancer patients. This experience generates an understanding and gentle tone.

The Grief Book is an outstanding offering for young people, parents and anyone experiencing grief or working with adolescents.

The grief Book: Strategies for Young People, by Elizabeth Vercoe with Kerry Abramwoski
Black Dog Books, 2004