Today we are getting involved with something a bit new and exciting… a blog tour! Big thanks to Anne Cater for organising! I’ll be reviewing the new YA novel, 10 Things to Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe.
Firstly, a bit of a blurb for you..
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 difficult months that followed Ruby became so depressed that she attempted suicide. She 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 to 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.
Inside is a list: ‘Ten 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? Can she do the ten things on The List? Will doing them make any difference?
I think this book is great. It carries important messages and serious themes without taking away from a plot.
The format of the story is really nice, following a List of things Ruby’s dad wrote down for her to do before the end of her school year, but the item on the list isn’t revealed until after Ruby has done it, leaving the reader to wonder throughout the story why she is doing the things she is doing – whether it’s her ticking something off her list or if her actions are coming from a place of personal grief.
One thing I really liked is how the author includes a few references to Ruby’s situation in popular culture. Near the beginning of the story, Ruby is writing in her private notebook about her depression and how she’s listening to her dad’s CDs as a way of remembering him, but also by way of apology for not paying enough attention when she could. Here, the author introduces Nick Drake’s song, Black-Eyed Dog to the reader. This is really nice as it sets a kind of tone, a melancholic, nostalgic tone, emphasising Ruby’s grief at the loss of her dad. Throughout the story there are also references to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and his suicidal soliloquies and Virginia Woolf’s last letter.
This book is a wonderfully sympathetic, interesting take on mental health in young people. Ruby is a character that is totally believable, and her story is one that needs to be told. I think everyone should read it.
Big thanks again to Acorn Press and Anne Cater from Random Things Through My Letterbox for letting me read this book and be a part of this wonderful tour.
Over and out,