Not My Problem
by Ciara Smyth
YA Contemporary, LGBTQ
Aideen has plenty of problems she can’t fix. Her best (and only) friend is pulling away. Her mother’s drinking problem is a constant concern. She’s even running out of outlandish diseases to fake so she can skip PE.
But when Aideen stumbles on her nemesis, overachiever Meabh Kowalski, in the midst of a full-blown meltdown, she sees a problem that—unlike her own disaster of a life—seems refreshingly easy to solve. Meabh is desperate to escape her crushing pile of extracurriculars. Aideen volunteers to help. By pushing Meabh down the stairs.
Problem? Solved. Meabh’s sprained ankle is the perfect excuse to ditch her overwhelming schedule. But when another student learns about their little scheme and brings Aideen another “client” who needs her “help,” it kicks off a semester of traded favors, ill-advised hijinks, and an unexpected chance at love. Fixing other people’s problems won’t fix her own, but it might be the push she needs to start.
Thank you so much to the author for sending me an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth was one of my favourite books I read last year (you can check out my full review here) and as soon as I heard the details about her second YA novel, I knew I was going to love it just as much. And to be honest, I might have loved it even more! I set my expectations high for this and I’m so glad that it delivered to every single one!
Smyth’s second novel follows loosely in the style of Sex Education meets Derry Girls. The main character is Aideen, and turns to fixing her classmate’s problems instead of her own, setting up a little business where she does something for someone in return for an owed favour. I thought the premise of this was so clever and funny that I was instantly drawn in, and I knew this was a story with a lot of potential.
I thought the characters in this were so great and so well-developed. I found myself so invested in not just the protagonist Aideen, but the side characters like Meabh, Aideen’s mam and Kavi too. I even loved all the side characters that came in and out everytime they needed Aideen to solve one of their problems – this really had a strong ensemble cast. But what I loved most was just how engaging Aideen was as a main character – she had a personality that was bursting with life on the pages, and I found it so easy to follow her voice and really get invested in her story as if she were my own friend. This is definitely one of Smyth’s strengths that appear in both of her novels, the way she can craft these protagonists so vividly and allow the reader to get so attached.
I also loved how funny this was, but how well she managed to balance humour with emotion. There were so many times throughout this story where I was laughing out loud, and the next minute I could feel my heartstrings being pulled on and I just wanted to give Aideen a hug. I think this is so important and such a triumph for Smyth—the ability to blend both emotion and humour so well together and it really elevated the story for me.
The story had a great pace, and I found myself racing through it because I was just so invested in the story. I was also a massive fan of the slow-burn/enemies-to-lovers romance and I thought this was done beautifully. If you’re looking for a funny, heartfelt sapphic YA novel – I can’t reccomend Not My Problem enough! Out in May, this is definitely not a book you want to miss!