Hi everyone, I hope you’re doing well! Sorry for another unexpected disappearance! I fell into a bit of a reading slump last week and combined with how hectic work was I just lost track when it came to blogging! You also may have noticed that the blog has had a wee bit of a glow up! I finally bit the bullet and changed my theme around a bit and I’m really happy with it! Today I’m back with a review for a book that completely blew my expectations out of the water and has really cemented the author at the top of my favourite sapphic authors list!
Title: Not My Problem
Author: Ciara Smyth
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: 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.
Last year I had a really fun time reading Ciara Smyth’s debut novel, The Falling in Love Montage, and after seeing just how much Theresa over at Sappho’s Library adored this second novel, I knew that I needed to pick it up (and I was so lucky to actually win a signed copy in a giveaway!). Not My Problem follows Aideen who’s life isn’t going as smoothly as she’d perhaps hope – she’s failing pretty much every class at school, her best friend seems to have other best friends, and her mum’s drinking again even though she promised she wouldn’t. But one morning, Aideen walks in on headteacher’s daughter and all round annoying polymath, Meabh Kowalska, mid-breakdown in the PE.. changing rooms and everything changes. Meabh convinces Aideen to push her down the stairs so she can injure herself just enough to get out of her many responsibilities, and Aideen is all too happy to help. But soon, Aideen finds herself at the centre of an enterprise fixing other people’s problems but at the expense of her very own.
There’s a blurb on this book that compares Not My Problem to Derry Girls – and I think that that’s the perfect way to describe it, with a bit of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and maybe a sprinkle of Jacqueline Wilson’s novels thrown in there too! This book is honestly so, so much fun and absolutely hilarious! I loved how Irish this book is, first and foremost. It’s definitely a step up from her first novel in that sense, and with how close Irish and Scots slang is (as well as some of our culture) I really appreciated all of Aideen’s snarky quips!
Aideen herself was such a great main character and I really felt for her throughout the whole book. If I had to describe her I’d say that she’s a mix of Erin from Derry Girls and Georgia from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, but also very very gay! Throughout the book she’s dealing with some pretty shitty situations, but she’s also really compassionate and empathetic in her own sarcastic way. I absolutely loved seeing what new ridiculous ailments she’d come up with to get out of doing P.E. as well as all the banter with her teachers. I also really loved Meabh and I felt so sorry for all the hatred people seemed to have for her. She really is the kind of girl who would do absolutely anything for her friends and I just really adored her. And don’t get me started on Kavi. I love a good himbo but Kavi…he’s up there with the best of them. He was definitely my favourite character in the book and I wish I had a himbo best friend like Kavi for myself. He was just the sweetest cinnamon roll and he even made me cry while reading the book because of how kind he is!
The plot, though it may sound a tad ridiculous at first, was really so much fun! I loved reading all the hilarious hijinks that Aideen got up to as well as seeing how all the characters’ plotlines all ended up mixing together at the end. Though this is a really funny book there are some more serious topics in here too, such as living with alcoholic parents and being poor. Though I can’t speak for either representation, I do think in general that they were handled very sensitively. Though I wish that no-one ever needed to use them, I think the inclusion of a main character going to a foodbank was something that is sadly very necessary to see in young adult, and also very realistic, and once again Ciara Smyth has managed to find the perfect balance between hilarious writing, sweet sapphic romance, and hard-hitting plotlines.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, so much more than I was expecting to when I first picked it up, and I think it’s one of the best YA contemporary novels that I’ve picked up this year so far. If witty writing and snarky sapphics doesn’t convince you enough to pick this book up…at least do it for Kavi!!