Reviews /

Never Trust a Gemini

Authored by Freja Nicole Woolf
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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As a Gemini, I have to say I struggled with the title of this book. I definitely didn’t see myself in this novel. But many young people would see themselves in here – the author has been clear in her statement that she was writing the novel that wasn’t around when she was a teen.

Cat is in love with her friend Alison Bridgewater: a love that seems is written in the stars, except for one very important point. Alison likes boys and doesn’t see Cat in that way at all. Cat is not even out to most of her friends and so her misreading of cues and fantasies about true love with Alison are often quite funny and just a little angsty.

It’s unusual to read YA fiction that isn’t ‘issues driven’ and this one, although it has ‘teen issues’, is not driven by them. Friendship, bullying, identity are all important parts of this novel but they don’t drive the plot. The plot is driven by Cat’s obsession with astrology and a strong desire to have a girlfriend. This makes for a fun story. Cat is a bit of a klutz and her adventures become quite funny. Over the top, yes but still funny. So, for a fluffy romance read, this is a recommendation.

As a teacher, I often struggle with books set in schools. Either the teachers are stereotypes and that’s mostly the case here or the students feel like adults. In Never Trust a Gemini the students feel a lot younger than they are supposed to be. I don’t need a book with lots of swearing for it to feel ‘real’ but the teenaged interactions here seem a bit young from my experience with Y10s. So, in some cases this reads like middle grade but the content makes it for older students as it’s definitely about partnering up at high school. This doesn’t necessarily make this a not recommend but rather a recommendation to choose your audience. I recently had a Year 9 class beg me to skip over the kissing scenes in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet – these are the book’s people.

Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2024