10 Things To Do Before You Leave School
By Bernard O’Keefe
I am pleased to be part of the Random Things blog tour today for the book – 10 Things to do Before You Leave School.
About the Author
After graduating from Oxford, Bernard O’Keeffe worked in advertising before training as a teacher. He taught for many years, first in a North London comprehensive, then at Radley College, where he was Head of English, and most recently at St Paul’s School in London, where he was Head of Sixth Form.
He has reviewed fiction for Literary Review and The Oxford Times and, as an editor of The English Review, has written over a hundred articles for A Level students on subjects ranging from Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle to Jane Austen and Shakespeare. In 2013 he published his first novel, ‘No Regrets’.
Ruby has had a difficult year to say the least, Just before she started sixth form her father died from a heart attack. In the months that followed, Ruby became so depressed that she attempted suicide. She now missed a lot of school, but now she’s about to go back and she’s worried. Is she well enough to get through her final year? Will the depression return? Should she apply for university?
The night before term begins, Ruby finds something that makes the prospect even more daunting: an envelope addressed to her in her father’s handwriting, 10 Things I Hope You Do Before You Leave School: it makes no sense. She can’t understand why he’d want her to do these things, let alone whether she’ll be able to do them.
As Ruby navigates her way through UCAS, parties, boyfriends and A-levels, she decides to give the list her best shot, but her efforts lead her into strange situations and to surprising discoveries.
Will Ruby survive her last year at school? Cand she do the ten things on The List? Will doing them make any difference?
This is an excellent book of our times. It’s a must for Young Adults. It is relatable for what so many young adults face today. There’s the technology, the exams, the university forms and all that angst. Oh and then there’s the Talks. You know, those familiar parent to young adult talk of the sex, the alcohol. I love how they are listed within this book and in such a tone that so many young adult will be familiar with. Ruby however has more than this to deal with, she has to deal with the fact that her dad has recently died.
The book is wonderfully presented. The parts of the book and within the body of the book becomes the list. I love this ingenious idea of it saying to young adults to have a list, but perhaps that’s because when I was that age I began writing a bucket list and yes I gradually tick things off and sometimes add to it and later tick it off.
This book is fun and touching and relevant with believable characters to care about and live with throughout this book.
The author has thought carefully and knows how to handle the tougher times that Ruby doesn’t want to return to in her life, sensitively, but then this is also when the really ingenious part comes into play, he has thought of other literary characters and authors who have had bleak parts within their lives, especially Virginia Woolf. Here he has added more self-discovery and analysis as Ruby looks at what she copied one time from Virginia Woolf’s letter before she drowned herself, and compares this with where she, herself is now and ponders of if she really is that same person, or is she moving on in life? It’s not dealt with lightly. There’s a lot of good thought that’s clearly gone into how the main character is feeling and thinking.
There’s of course the boys and the parties too, again written well. All this book is written well and is written in a way that is recognisable to how a young adult would talk and relate to the world around them and their peers.
Does Ruby finish school and get into university? Well, that would be telling…
Go on and read it to find out for yourselves. It’s worth the time.
The things within the list is what any young adult can achieve and with little to no money. Most are life affirming and will teach young adult’s something valuable in life. This book is full of life and emotion. There’s also humour and enough to make it absorbing and uplifting. It’s meaningful and well-considered and written.
I absolutely recommend this book to every young adult about to leave school or got one more year to go. It’s a book for today and it will still remain relevant for many years to come I am sure.
Title: 10 Things To Do Before You Leave School
Author: Bernard O’Keefe
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Acorn Independent Press (5 Mar. 2019)