Review of Not My Problem

Not My Problem
by Ciara Smyth
High School    HarperTeen    368 pp.    g
5/21    978-0-06-295714-6    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-295716-0    $9.99

Bossy know-it-all perfectionist Meabh and underachieving social outcast Aideen are enemies at their Irish high school (think Derry Girls, but co-ed and with more than one wee lesbian). But when Aideen comes across the overwhelmed Meabh having a meltdown, they hatch an outlandish scheme to get Meabh out of some of her many scheduled activities: Aideen will push Meabh down some stairs, injuring Meabh’s ankle; she will thus be excused from yoga, team sports, gym class, etc., while still being able to practice cello, do homework, and, most important, run for student council president. The pushing-down-the-stairs scheme actually works, but it’s witnessed by odd-duck though super-sweet classmate Kavi, who then begins bringing Aideen “clients” so she can solve their problems, too. As Aideen’s services become more and more sought after, escapades ensue, and her life gets very entangled — but, also, her social orbit begins to expand as “clients” turn into a network of friends, and she and Meabh start to fall for each other. Meanwhile, Aideen’s heretofore sole friend, Holly, manipulative and vindictive, decides to run against Meabh in the school election — forcing Aideen to make some hard choices. Aideen’s first-person narration is sometimes hilarious, tart, and sarcastic; sometimes heart-tuggingly poignant (especially when she’s trying to suss out if her single-parent mam is drinking again; or when finally allowing herself to realize what a false friend Holly is); always compulsively readable.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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