Not My Problem

HarperTeen. May 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062957146.
Gr 8 Up–In this witty and engaging novel, Irish author Smyth creates a flawed teen girl, Aideen, who makes a credible journey from self-protectively tough to ready and willing to face her main problem: her single mother’s neglectful alcoholism. When Aideen makes a snap decision to help the principal’s overachieving, overscheduled, and generally disliked daughter, she begins doing secret favors for classmates in return for them owing her their help. She develops unexpected feelings for one of her clients and makes a new friend in Kavi, who is chatty and humorous but also has his own problems as, Aideen discovers, everyone does. The story unfolds effortlessly, detailing both suspenseful and hilarious moments, as does real life. Populated with believable high school friends and very few adults, Aideen and most other characters are white, and Kavi is Indian. Here, Aideen’s lesbian identity is not a plot point, but a detail that gives her authenticity.
VERDICT This engaging novel will hook readers immediately. Recommended for all collections serving teens.

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