Hello hello and welcome, or welcome back, to my little corner of the internet. Today I’m bringing you my review of Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth as part of the blog tour, and I’ve got to say, this contemporary sapphic YA novel surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. Witty and hardhitting, I’m really excited to share my thoughts.
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.
Like I said above, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. I’ve been enjoying contemporary fiction more and more recently, and with the sapphic romance side to this, combined with an undercurrent of problems that Aideen both could and couldn’t fix, it made for a brilliant novel.
I’m a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope as we might be aware as I’ve mentioned it a few times, and this was an “enemies to lovers but realistic”, as in, there were (sadly) no magic or swords in sight. It forced both Aideen and Meabh to look past their initial expectations of each other and see the person underneath, all while not realising that’s what they were doing. It was very sweet, but not in a sickening way, in a “you irritate the crap out of me but I happen to want to kiss you” kind of way, which is my kind of romantic fiction.
The character of Kavi also needs mentioning, as he plays a major role without Aideen even asking him to; somehow he just gets wound up into things, and has the sweetness of the soul to want to help. I really loved him as a character, I thought he was a brilliant friend to all involved, and was just a great big sweetheart. An absolutely cinnamon roll.
Throughout the story, while Aideen is fixing people’s problems, her own demons are jumping away at her. Falling behind in almost ever subject because of struggling to keep things at home in a precarious balance with her mum drinking and her dad making another unwanted visit before disappearing back home to his wife, even the stories she comes up with to get her out of PE aren’t helping her run far enough away from the wolf. With the support of her new found friends, she finds the strength, and has the support, to grow, and to take up the offers for help she has been so frightened to accept.