10 Things To Do Before You Leave School follows Ruby, a teenage girl about to embark on her A levels. Ruby has had a difficult year, and has had an ongoing battle with mental health issues. On her return to school, Ruby comes across a list left by her late father of 10 things he hoped she would do before leaving school. Ruby makes it her aim to complete the list before the end of sixth form, despite her ongoing battle with mental health issues and the dramas of being a teenager.

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School is a brilliantly written piece of fiction, which highlights the issues of mental health and the impact that it can have on a young person’s life. I felt O Keeffe tackled the issues with sensitivity and compassion, whilst also bringing mental health awareness to the forefront.

Ruby as a character is a beautifully described and whole person who we follow on her ongoing battle with depression and mental illness. Her views and feelings at times are thought provoking and heartbreaking all at one, and as a reader really pulled at the heart strings. I was whisked away in her world, following her on her journey of discovery. I enjoyed learning more about her and having a real insight in to her thoughts and feelings. Ruby was an engaging and strong character, who I wholeheartedly got behind from page one.

It was interesting to learn about her relationships and see the impact her mental well being had on these and the effect on her friends and family. Her emotions and feelings were raw and the emotions and interactions with others were beautifully encapsulated in words.

This is one hell of a book and I have struggled to find the words to give this incredible book the justice it deserves. Overall I felt it approached mental health in a way which was both raw and enlightening, showing the reader the real impact grief and mental health has on a person and their loved ones.

This is a must have read. But make sure you have the tissues at the ready!


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’.

Website: http://www.bernardokeeffe.com/

Twitter : @BernardOKeeffe1

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School Book Cover 10 Things To Do Before You Leave School
Bernard O Keeffe
Acorn Independent Press

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?

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