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Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth - Review

Sunday, November 14, 2021



Where did I get it? The library! My friend Lucinda, who is a children's librarian, recommended it to me. I requested it and picked it up from my local library. 


What's it about? Aideen is in her transition year in the Republic of Ireland, meaning she's sixteen. Her mam is an alcoholic and has a complicated relationship with Aideen's dad. Aideen lives in constant fear of her mother going off the rails or of social services getting involved. Her mam is a hairdresser but doesn't always turn up to work. Consequently, Aideen has given her phone number as her mother's to her school. 

She often skips school and never does homework. Her form tutor, Ms Devlin, is also her PE teacher, and is fed up of Aideen's continuing excuses as to why she can't do PE. Aideen has one friend, Holly, but Holly has been pulling apart from her for a while. 

While skiving PE one day, Aideen finds herself in the changing rooms with Meabh, a girl in her class who is always perfect and a bit of a know it all. Holly and Aideen can't usually stand her. Meabh wants to stand to be student president for their year, but she can't see how she can fit it in to her ultra busy schedule. She asks Aideen to push her down the stairs just so she can break her ankle or something to get some time off her sports team. Aideen thinks that's a mad idea but ends up doing it.

Then it turns out that a boy called Kavi has overhead their conversation. He helps Aideen take Meabh to the sick room, and then he just keeps turning up whereever Aideen is. He brings some people to Aideen who he thinks she can also help, and everything goes quite farcical. Aideen is soon making friends and getting into bother, but also helping people. But she can't solve the problems of her mum or her friendship with Holly, and she also thinks there's sparks between herself and Meabh... 


What age range is it for? Thirteen plus 


Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, Aideen is openly a lesbian and is out at school. There's other mentions of queer characters too. 


Are any main characters people of colour? Yeah, Kavi is Indian I think. I'm not sure about anyone else. Meabh has a Polish father (also the principal of the school) and one of her manifesto pledges is to introduce Polish lessons to the school. I liked this bit. 


Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, I think Aideen's mam's alcoholism counts here, so be careful if that's a trigger for you. 


Is there any sex stuff? No, hence why I think it's suitable for 13 year olds onwards. 


Are drugs mentioned or used? No 


Is there any talk of death? A little bit 


Are there swear words? No 

 

What criticisms do I have? I think there was something funny about the timeline - I thought it was near the beginning of the year, but then it was January, but if it was January then earlier in the novel it would have been Christmas and it wasn't? But that's all. 


Would I recommend the book? Yes, it's also really, really funny as well as everything else. 


Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? You have to read library books to then give them back! 

 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute. 

 

What other books is it like? It reminded me of Paper Avalanche for the serious bits to do with Aideen's mam, and other funny/farcical books for the helping other people part. 


How many stars? Four out of five. I would definitely read something else by the same author!

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