Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth – eARC Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Aideen can fix anyone’s problem – just not her own

When Aideen agrees to help ambitious class swot Maebh Kowalska deal with her crazy workload, she doesn’t expect to end up reluctantly pushing Maebh down the stairs.

With this, Aideen becomes the school ‘fixer’: any problem a student has, Aideen will sort it out, from stealing confiscated mobiles to breaking into parties. All she asks for is a favour in return.

But Aideen’s own life is a mess – her mam’s drinking again, her BFF Holly is avoiding her and she’s skipping school. Spending more time with the uptight (but annoyingly cute) Maebh and chatterbox Kavi, Aideen starts to wonder: can every problem be solved?

My Review

Not My Problem is an absolutely fantastic read from start to finish. 

Right from the opening pages I was completely engaged by the main character of Aideen and how her sardonic wit made its presence immediately known. This book will most certainly make you laugh with the youthful irreverence and incisive commentary on life that Aideen breathes into each page. 

But Aideen is much more than a sassy and hilarious character. 

She is so sumptuously written by the author, Ciara Smyth, that it feels like she’s a real person. Her personality, character motivations, and background story are so richly yet effortlessly detailed that her story feels truly authentic. Indeed after closing the pages of my book I’m quite lonely for her companionship. I know it might sound cheesy but I completely fell in love with her and wished she was my friend. Some characters in books just touch your soul in ways that are wholly unexpected and for me, Aideen is one of those characters. 

But this book isn’t just a barrel of laughs… I mean it is utterly hilarious and I laughed the whole way through it, but it also explores many topical issues in the most delicate and sensitive of ways. Smyth is truly a skilled writer with how she deftly wove quite a heartbreaking storyline into a plot that was part comedy caper, and part enemies to lovers slow burn romance. It was an extraordinarily brilliant balancing act of sadness and comedic genius. 

Aideen comes from a single parent family and in many ways has to be the adult as her mother deals with alcoholism and depression. This aspect of the storyline is what made me feel all the feels for Aideen, and was a brilliant case study in complicated parent – child relationships. The novel showed Aideen trying to be sixteen but also trying to keep her family together by keeping social services at bay, attending food banks, forgoing teenage life to keep her mother company so she couldn’t drink etc etc. It showed the complexity of emotions that Aideen was going through; how she was masking her true feelings from even herself by using sarcasm and wit, and by portraying this tough exterior in order to hide how much she was drowning in a sea of anxiety and hopelessness.

The book also explored the issue of toxic friendship a way that felt fully believable and bone crushingly sad for both parties … no clue how Smyth managed to make me feel sympathy for Aideen’s toxic friend but somehow she did! I blame her impeccable skills at conveying emotion through the authentic characters in this novel! 

There’s also a slow burn enemies to lovers romance in this novel… it really isn’t something that’s to the fore as the emphasis is definitely more on Aideen’s personal emotional struggles and her burgeoning friendships… in fact you could say it’s more of an enemies to friends to lovers and I was 100% here for it. 

Big shout outs must be given to the supporting cast and especially to Meabh, the deliciously strait laced but sassy AF enemy / romantic interest, and my dearest Kavi who is just the absolute bestest of best cinnamon rolls and has my heart forever. And major props to the cast of teachers at Aideen’s school, in particular Ms Devlin. She reminded me of a teacher from my school days with her warmth, her banter, and her ability to cut through the bluster and bravado from her students.

All in all I could not find a single fault with this novel. I laughed so hard throughout, and then found myself smiling through my tears at the perfect ending. I could not recommend this book more highly. 

A fantastic contemporary YA read. 

Content Warning

  • Alcoholism
  • Toxic friendship
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Complicated parent-child relationship
  • Absent parent
  • Bullying

*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*

Publishing 3rd June 2021, Andersen Press

7 thoughts on “Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth – eARC Book Review

    1. I am an unabashed fan of ya. I find it very comforting. And Ciara Smyth is an Irish author, Belfast I believe. So definitely worth looking up to see how things are for the current crop of Irish teenagers. It’s lovely reading a book that references things like the leaving cert etc. Makes a change from the US or U.K. centric ya that drowns the market here

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It really is. I’m very excited to read the latest book by Deirdre Sullivan once I get my arcs read. She’s written her first adult collection of short stories and I’m very intrigued. And I’ve gotten myself a copy of Louise Nealon’s debut Snowflake too. Really seems to be very much a time for celebration Irish women writers which is fantastic …but of course I’ll be reading Colm Tóibín’s new one in the autumn too! I’m such a fan of his work. And a book I missed from last year that I’m itching to get my hands on is A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa.

          Liked by 1 person

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