Mini Review: Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

Publication Date: May 25th 2021

Aideen has plenty of problems she can’t solve. But when she stumbles upon overachiever Meabh Kowalska having a full-blown meltdown, she sees one that she can actually fix. Meabh is desperate to escape her crushing pile of extracurriculars. Aideen volunteers to help—by pushing her down the stairs.

Problem? Solved. Meabh’s sprained ankle is the perfect excuse to ditch her overwhelming schedule. But when one of their classmates learns about their little scheme, more “clients” start asking for Aideen’s “help”—kicking off a semester of traded favors, ill-advised hijinks, and even an unexpected chance at love.

Fixing other people’s problems won’t fix her own. But it might be the push Aideen needs to start.

My thoughts & feelings.

Slowly but surely I’m finding up and coming authors who continue to entertain me, book after book, and after reading her sophomore novel, Ciara Smyth is definitely on that list. 

With her debut release, The Falling in Love Montage, and her newest novel, Not My Problem, Smyth does seem to be following a certain set up and I’m loving it: and Irish lesbian main character who, for reasons, is a bit of a disaster, but through the course of the book, grows as person and makes friends (and maybe a girlfriend) along the way. 

In this case, we follow 16 year old Aideen who is struggling in life: her mum’s drinking again, her deadbeat dad has been coming around, and the teachers at her school are starting to get on her case. After ditching P.E she runs into her “arch enemy” Maebh, the school overachiever, in the midst of an existential crisis. Maebh’s life is scheduled down to when she can take showers, so when she needs to free up some time to run for class president, Aideen helps … by pushing her down the stairs and spraining her ankle.

When word spreads that Aideen is the girl to go to if you have a problem that needs fixing, she quickly gets involved in a whole bunch of mischief and shenanigans while making friends, and avoiding her own problems, at the same time.

This book was so entertaining. Aideen being the narrator worked really well because her inner thoughts were very funny, even in the worst moments. Smyth does a really good job at touching on important subjects (alcoholic parents, school troubles, school related stress, toxic friendships) and keeping the levity of the situation while still injecting humour. 

I also felt like this book did a great job at representing students. For Aideen, school doesn’t come easy. She’s so far behind that she doesn’t see the point in trying. I’m currently failing one class and to say I’m feeling the same way would be an understatement. I could also relate to Maebh who puts so much pressure on herself when it comes to school that she decided to throw herself down a flight of stairs to lighten her load. 

Overall this was a fun and quick read. My only wish for this book would be that we could have seen the romance play out a little more but I understand that maybe wasn’t the main focus of the book, and seeing the two characters growing closer was still fun enough. 

If you’re looking for a new contemporary read, especially a f/f contemporary, I highly recommend!!

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