Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth.
Not My Problem follows the protagonist, Aideen, and her journey with fixing other people’s problems. It all starts when she ends up pushing overachiever Maebh down the stairs in a bid to save her from her hectic schedule – and it completely explodes from there. Aideen soon discovers that she has a knack for solving other students’ problems – the only problem is, she can’t seem to solve any of her own.
I think it’s safe to say that Not My Problem was very different from other contemporaries I’ve read this year. There was just something about it which made it stand out from other books in the genre, and I really enjoyed reading it – I could barely put it down once I started! It’s definitely one of my favourite reads of the year so far.
I think if I had to pinpoint the one thing which made this book stand out so much it would have to be the narrative voice. Aideen had such a distinctive voice, and reading her story was very entertaining and humorous! I loved the way Smyth wrote the chapters as often in books the chapters can be quite generic, but Smyth smashed Aideen’s voice perfectly – it was one of the strongest voices I’ve read to date!
Aideen’s whole character was perfectly planned, to be completely honest with you. Sure, she could be defensive and rude, but she had a really good heart and truly cared about the ones she loved. Watching her solve everyone else’s problems was so interesting to read as it really highlighted her kindness and willingness to help others. As a reader it was also quite sad to see her help everyone else as she struggled to ask for help herself.
I think this was definitely one of the things which made her character so relatable, too. Nowadays a lot of people seem to struggle with opening up to others – myself included – and I think it’s really wonderful to see that reflected back in a character. Relatable characters are definitely a must for me in any book, and it can really help you connect and emphasise with the story more.
Of course, all of the characters in this book were brilliant. Smyth included such an excellent cast of characters who were all so diverse and different from each other, which I really appreciated. It was lovely to read all of their different personalities and dilemmas, and I think it’s safe to say that every reader will find part of themselves in at least one of the characters!
Obviously all of these different characters led to a lot of different friendships being established. I think my favourite was definitely Aideen, Maebh and Kavi’s – they were such an unlikely group but somehow they all fit together so perfectly. Reading their interactions and adventures was such an enjoyable experience and I loved how close they all were by the end of the book!
Of course, friendship wasn’t the only major theme in Not My Problem – there was also the relationship between Aideen and Maebh. I really enjoyed reading their banter and the back and forth between the two, and it was definitely a very good tension builder! Their relationship was honestly so adorable and I was more than a little invested in their relationship. In all fairness it was hard not to, what with all the moments the two shared and Smyth’s excellent writing!
I think the humour throughout this book also really demonstrated her excellent writing. I found myself laughing at so many different points throughout the book – Aideen’s character was just so funny – and all of the different adventures the friends would go on. Of course, Aideen’s excuses for PE also never failed to make me grin like an idiot – and I was reading this in public, so people really must’ve thought I was an idiot!
Despite that, Smyth included a lot of different difficult topics – alcoholism, messy families, homophobia and friendship difficulties were all included in Aideen’s story. I really admired Smyth’s ability to write with such wit and humour whilst also sensitively covering a lot of very real issues, and it definitely further demonstrated how talented she is.
I think the one issue I had with this book was the ending. Sure, we got to see Aideen’s development, but it still left me with a lot of questions over what her actions would’ve let to – I think an epilogue a couple of months later would’ve wrapped things up that much better. Of course, this is definitely personal preference, and I know some people prefer books to be left more open, so I wouldn’t let this put you off from the book!
Overall, I would recommend Not My Problem for anyone looking for a well rounded book which has a very strong focus on friendship. I would also recommend it for any general contemporary fan, as this perfectly exemplified everything I love about the genre. It was such a lovely read that I would highly recommend to anyone!
I hope you enjoyed this review!