Canal Street Online Manchester

Review of Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

Review of Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

Make purchasing this book your one and only problem! I promise you, and you can hold me to this promise, that you will not regret it!  

Pssh! Look, you can literally purchase a copy of the book right here.. https://www.queerlit.co.uk/products/not-my-problem

Okay, Okay! Now I am being too pushy, but I just can’t help it. Ciara Smyth’s take on the turbulent, emotional and joyful truth of adolescence, unexpectedly captured my not so long ago drifted adolescence nostalgia. The book felt like a memoir that was easy to rejoice in as I leaned back on the sofa and recalled upon my days as a high-school teen. This is a book that transpires the form of being a book and becomes one of the few that resembles a feeling of home. 

Aideen is a quick-witted rebel with a ‘tough’ exterior that shields her smooshy and delicate self and heart. For a long time Aideen has been dodging the budding attention of her tutor, as she down-plays and wits her way out of discussing her low-grades. Aideen has her best-friend, her camaraderie by her side who knows more of Aideen than anyone in the world and this used to strengthen Aideen as she grimaced in the knowing that her Dad will return at any moment and throw her dear mother from her tracks of sobriety. 

But then Meabh has a problem and needs a favour… 

Meabh is the tediously annoying overachiever that everyone rolls their eyes to as she assertively stands for not one, but all the head titles in school. She is Aideens bestfriends nemesis and so, naturally, as a teen, is Aideens too. But Aideen’s feelings towards Meabh are whirlwinded as the favour looms between them and changes not one, but many courses of Aideens teen life. 

Aideen miraciouslysy soon finds herself to be a savvy businesswoman of a school enterprise. Aided by the most unlikeliest of comrades, Aideens plunged into intense, radical, humorous and reader relatable situations and close-calls! Yet, the question remains throughout the book, how will Aideen sort her own problems? 

Not My Problem captures what I feel adults have learnt to dismiss as frivolous friendship drama as they grow older in an digestible and heart-opening tone. Ciara gave me a window into the mind and heart of a teen whose parent struggles against substance misuse and the centrality of friendships, not least the unexpected ones, that teens like Aideen heal and grow. This is one of many reasons why this book went above the title of a book and was, for me, a space to reflect on how unconditional love in friendships pulls us through the hardest of times. 

Learning to free ourselves from patterns of behaviour that were for our best interest but no longer give us security is at the core of this story. Ciara Smyth will have you, as it did for me, hugging the book as you close the final chapter and realise it’s now your turn to be brave, and you’ll know instinctively in what way. 

Review by Vlogger Sistah Dictionary

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Published: 6-Nov-2021 (6432)

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