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Anything But Fine

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Luca is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. All it takes to crush his dreams is one missed step . . . and a broken foot. Jordan is the gorgeous rowing star and school captain of Luca's new school. Everyone says he's straight - but Luca’s not so sure . . . As their unlikely bond grows stronger, Luca starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting Luca is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. All it takes to crush his dreams is one missed step . . . and a broken foot. Jordan is the gorgeous rowing star and school captain of Luca's new school. Everyone says he's straight - but Luca’s not so sure . . . As their unlikely bond grows stronger, Luca starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting himself up for another heartbreak?


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Luca is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. All it takes to crush his dreams is one missed step . . . and a broken foot. Jordan is the gorgeous rowing star and school captain of Luca's new school. Everyone says he's straight - but Luca’s not so sure . . . As their unlikely bond grows stronger, Luca starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting Luca is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. All it takes to crush his dreams is one missed step . . . and a broken foot. Jordan is the gorgeous rowing star and school captain of Luca's new school. Everyone says he's straight - but Luca’s not so sure . . . As their unlikely bond grows stronger, Luca starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting himself up for another heartbreak?

30 review for Anything But Fine

  1. 5 out of 5

    cal

    very very cute shit! and swoon worthy. like the netflix-needs-to-adapt-this kind of cute and heartwarming. a powerful character-driven story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    ... about a teenage ballet dancer who breaks his foot and begins to question everything he once took for granted, including his relationship with the dreamy, perfect-in-every-way, and seemingly straight captain of the rowing team. an australian ballet dancer in an #ownvoices mlm sports romance? give me Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram ... about a teenage ballet dancer who breaks his foot and begins to question everything he once took for granted, including his relationship with the dreamy, perfect-in-every-way, and seemingly straight captain of the rowing team. an australian ballet dancer in an #ownvoices mlm sports romance? give me Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    BALLET GAYS, I REPEAT, BALLET GAYS.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you to the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Anything but Fine is a YA contemporary about Luca, a promising ballet dancer whose career ends after an awful injury. Luca doesn't know who he is without ballet, and to make matters worse, his prestigious private academy is taking away his scholarship now that he can't dance. Luca isn't looking forward to navigating a new school environment, especially without any of his childhood friends with him. B Thank you to the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Anything but Fine is a YA contemporary about Luca, a promising ballet dancer whose career ends after an awful injury. Luca doesn't know who he is without ballet, and to make matters worse, his prestigious private academy is taking away his scholarship now that he can't dance. Luca isn't looking forward to navigating a new school environment, especially without any of his childhood friends with him. But when he meets Jordan at their OT appointments, things start to look up. This book was fine... It feels weird to say that, but it was just fine. I liked Luca as a character, but I wasn't completely sold on the way things developed. I also was kind of sad that ballet wasn't as big of a part of the story--though that's completely my fault because I didn't realize there was a career ending injury involved, I just saw ballet and said YES. I loved that this was a YA contemporary set in Australia. YA is incredibly over inundated with US and UK based stories, so it was nice to see a different location. There was one point where I was really confused and thought the characters were in college/university, but then someone said they were like 16-17 so I realized it was more high school/the Australian equivalent. Luca was a fine character, but I kind of wanted more from his character. Like his whole personality was dance, then it was pining for Jordan, and now it's just kind of ?? missing? I did like that Luca is still figuring out who he is and what he likes, but I wish there had been more of this coming of age search earlier in the book. The one character in this that I absolutely loved and gets 5 stars on her own is Amina. I loved Amina so much. Her character brought me so much joy and I loved that she was such an amazing friend to Luca. Rep: white gay male MC with a broken foot/crutches, bisexual/questioning Japanese-Aussie male love interest, Indonesian Muslim female side character. CWs: Abandonment of friends, alcohol consumption, bullying, death of parent (happened in past), hate crime, homophobia/homomisia, homophobic slurs, islamophobia/islamomisia, outing, racism, toxic friendship.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeann (Happy Indulgence)

    A heartfelt, inspirational read about recovering after a devastating injury, that means the end to your dancing career. Loved the sweet m/m romance and the wonderful story of Luca working out what his life will look like afterwards. --- This review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence Books. Check it out for more reviews! How would you feel if everything that you knew about your life changes in an instant? Anything But Fine, of course! In this #LoveOzYA contemporary book, that’s exactly what ha A heartfelt, inspirational read about recovering after a devastating injury, that means the end to your dancing career. Loved the sweet m/m romance and the wonderful story of Luca working out what his life will look like afterwards. --- This review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence Books. Check it out for more reviews! How would you feel if everything that you knew about your life changes in an instant? Anything But Fine, of course! In this #LoveOzYA contemporary book, that’s exactly what happens to Luca, when he trips over the stairs of the ballet school and shatters his ankle. Everything he knows disappears in an instant – his promising ballet career, his shiny scholarship to his private school, and even the closest friends he’s had since he could talk. Anything But Fine covers the time after his accident, about the depression and uncertainty and adjustment to his new life without ballet. Not only does he have to walk around with crutches, but his days usually filled with practice have suddenly become empty. He’s also kicked out of his old private school and subsequently, his friendship group, and needs to make new friends at the local public school. It is a dark and trying place for Luca, but slowly, over the course of the book, he finds his place. There’s also a m/m romance in Anything But Fine, as Luca majorly crushes on Jordan the half-Japanese School Captain and Captain of the Football team – who also happens to be straight. Or is he really? There’s a lot to navigate here with Jordan’s sexuality as he gets to know Luca for the first time, including his reputation as the most popular guy at school and perhaps even coming out for the first time. I thought the developing relationship was really cute, but I could definitely see how things were complicated and frustrating at the same time. I loved how the romance developed through flirty texts and communication and could really sense the chemistry they had with one another. I also loved Amina, the nerdy, Indonesian girl who quickly befriends Luca at the new school. She’s chatty, outgoing and bubbly and also a genius and doesn’t hesitate to help out Luca with his studies. I love how she handled the racist microaggressions that were dealt towards her by various people in the book, and how she doesn’t really care about what others think of her. Her attitude was really refreshing and I could see how she was such a positive influence on Luca, especially while he was having a difficult time. From first love, to ballet, healing and rehabilitation, Anything But Fine covers a trying time in a dancer’s life when they are injured and can’t dance anymore. It tells a story of things working out, no matter how bleak they look at the start. I thought the story was really lovely and inspirational, with a wonderful gay romance as well. I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Star

    This was SO GOOOOOOOD!!! Okay, this was just absolutely adorable, and I loved it so very much a lot. I read this via audio because I needed to read it as soon as I could, and this was the quickest way. As I write this, my pre-order of the physical copy has just been dispatched and I am hanging out for it to get here! I adored Luca and his voice just jumped off the page. I found myself laughing, cringing, and covering my face with my hands on more than one occasion. This book was an absolute delight This was SO GOOOOOOOD!!! Okay, this was just absolutely adorable, and I loved it so very much a lot. I read this via audio because I needed to read it as soon as I could, and this was the quickest way. As I write this, my pre-order of the physical copy has just been dispatched and I am hanging out for it to get here! I adored Luca and his voice just jumped off the page. I found myself laughing, cringing, and covering my face with my hands on more than one occasion. This book was an absolute delight from start to finish and I can't recommend this enough! Also, Luca and Amina's friendship was just so lovely and so cute and so precious, and honestly, it was my favourite part of the book. I'm so glad this book exists! Content warnings: homophobia, homophobic slurs, racism, racist slurs, accidental outing, grief, death (of a parent, past), sports injuries.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Firstly I wish to send my special thanks to the author, my friend Tobias Madden and to Penguin Random House Australia for bringing me on board as a sensitivity reader for this manuscript. It truly was an honour to be one of the first readers and to have the opportunity to provide thoughts on the loveable Indonesian-Muslim character who is featured in the story: Amina Ahmed. I was so chuffed to see Tobias include an Indonesian-Muslim character in this fantastic story - it brought me so much joy. P Firstly I wish to send my special thanks to the author, my friend Tobias Madden and to Penguin Random House Australia for bringing me on board as a sensitivity reader for this manuscript. It truly was an honour to be one of the first readers and to have the opportunity to provide thoughts on the loveable Indonesian-Muslim character who is featured in the story: Amina Ahmed. I was so chuffed to see Tobias include an Indonesian-Muslim character in this fantastic story - it brought me so much joy. Please note: my review is spoiler free and based on what I have read in the manuscript which is an uncorrected proof and there will probably be changes by the time the finished copy hits the shelves. From what I have read, I can say Y'ALL MUST READ THIS! and I am not just saying that. I devoured the manuscript in 2 days, staying up until 1:30am to finish reading it - if I didn't have to work, I would have finished it a lot sooner as I really could not put this down. The story drew me in from the very beginning and held me in suspense throughout. When I say suspense: I became so invested in the characters and Luca’s story that I simply needed to know what happened next. I also experienced emotional reactions from laughter to cringing to gasping to even tears and when I have a reaction like that to a work of fiction, I know it is a fantastic read. The friendships, drama, romance and the life-changing incident that affects Luca psychologically, felt all very genuine and very real. The characters are well defined the moment I met each of them, which made it easy for me to identify the good characters from the ‘villains’. Each character had such distinct voices and the dialogue was very witty, humorous and written very well that I felt like I was right there beside Luca each time he interacted with someone throughout the story. Every scene I read as we went along felt important as it showed character development as well as gave us an understanding to how each character behaved the way they did and even covered important themes teens need to be aware of. As a Muslim reader, I was elated to see a character I truly identified with and represented so positively. I feel the author showed a lot of empathy and did so well in constructing Amina’s character. I am truly happy with how she is represented in the story. I also related to Amina on such a personal level and honestly Luca and Amina's first meeting reminded me of how Tobias and I first met and became friends all those years ago! (lol) I admire how Amina demonstrates friendships between Muslims and Non-Muslims actually exist in the real world and the respect, kindness and acceptance Amina shows towards Luca without question is really how it should be. The author also did very well in describing Amina from her hijab to his first insight into her Indonesian culture, family and the Islamic faith. I found it interesting to see Amina through Luca’s lens as he did not stereotype her at all. Luca is a loveable character, to see him deal with his life changing incident to then seeing him grow throughout the back was truly admirable. I also enjoyed seeing how Luca dealt with challenges that came with the transition in school, friends and the like. I also adored his relationship with his father - that really got me in the feels! Such a great book, wonderful diverse characters, real life issues and incidents that really took me back to high school! The story is so addictive from the start and I cannot express how much I love it. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Once again, with special thanks to the author Tobias Madden and Penguin Random House Australia for bringing me in as a sensitivity reader for Amina's character.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Natalie M

    Yes! An authentic, rich and character-driven YA! A fantastic debut by Aussie author Tobias Madden! Ballerinas, buff jocks, bitchy girls and the backdrop of the small town of Ballarat (Australia) collide with injuries, gay teens, exam angst, teen trials and traumas, for a one-sitting read! Oh, the drama and dilemmas, the decisions, dating and defiant attitudes. But these characters grow, learn and change realistically and authentically. The story follows Luca, who is on track to audition for the Au Yes! An authentic, rich and character-driven YA! A fantastic debut by Aussie author Tobias Madden! Ballerinas, buff jocks, bitchy girls and the backdrop of the small town of Ballarat (Australia) collide with injuries, gay teens, exam angst, teen trials and traumas, for a one-sitting read! Oh, the drama and dilemmas, the decisions, dating and defiant attitudes. But these characters grow, learn and change realistically and authentically. The story follows Luca, who is on track to audition for the Australian Ballet School until a freak fall shatters his foot. Ballet, until the accident, is his entire life, his friendships and his focus. Luca is faced with the challenge of a new school and learning to move on in such an unexpected way. And then there's Jordan Tanaka-Jones, school captain, rowing captain, the perfect distraction...and he happens to be straight. Excellent characterisation, humour and a sound dose of reality. A great read (listen), and I highly recommend the interview with the author and the narrator at the end. Definitely a writer and narrator I will be following.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chaitanya Srivastava

    HYPE : BALLET DANCER AND ROWING CAPTIN ? Do I smell a new troupe of its own? Hehe! Looking forward to consume this #OwnVoices!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ceyrone

    This is my first book by author and it won’t be my last. It was a beautifully written story, with lots of heart, humour and drama. I liked the characters but I must say, I loved the characters or Sami and Amina. They were by far my favourite characters and Amina deserved better. I wanted more of Sami. Anything But Fine follows Luca a ballet dancer with a promising career ahead of him, however that comes to an end after a terrible injury. On top of this, he loses his scholarship to a prestigious This is my first book by author and it won’t be my last. It was a beautifully written story, with lots of heart, humour and drama. I liked the characters but I must say, I loved the characters or Sami and Amina. They were by far my favourite characters and Amina deserved better. I wanted more of Sami. Anything But Fine follows Luca a ballet dancer with a promising career ahead of him, however that comes to an end after a terrible injury. On top of this, he loses his scholarship to a prestigious private school because of said injury and must go to the local high school. Luca struggles with who he is outside of ballet and to make matters worse, he has to navigate being the new student , in a new environment, without his childhood friends. Luca forms a friendship with Amina who helps him to adjust. While attending his OT appointments, he meets Jordan and falls instantly. Jordan is a popular year 12 student, a rowing star, football captain and school captain. It’s a well written story about self-discovery and friendship, about loving yourself no matter what colour you identify as and being proud of it. “Luca,’ he replies, ‘I’ve been a teacher for twenty-five years. And I learned a very long time ago that there are some things you can’t teach people. Sometimes you need to give them the time and space to learn things on their own.’

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bec

    “‘I’m fine’, I say as we pull out of the car park, feeling literally anything by fine.” Luca is almost ready to audition for the Australian Ballet school. He lives and breathed ballet and has worked so hard to get to where he is. His hopes and dreams are shattered when he missed a step and hears his foot crack. Heartbroken in a matter of minutes Luca has lost his career, his school and his friends. At occupational therapy Luca meets Jordan, the beautiful rowing champion and coincidentally the scho “‘I’m fine’, I say as we pull out of the car park, feeling literally anything by fine.” Luca is almost ready to audition for the Australian Ballet school. He lives and breathed ballet and has worked so hard to get to where he is. His hopes and dreams are shattered when he missed a step and hears his foot crack. Heartbroken in a matter of minutes Luca has lost his career, his school and his friends. At occupational therapy Luca meets Jordan, the beautiful rowing champion and coincidentally the school captain at Luca’s new school. Luca falls head over heels for the straight jock, but something tells Luca this feeling is mutual. Luca starts to question who he is without ballet. Starting a new school and making new friends is hard, but to everyone Luca’s fine. Jordan and Luca’s friendship grows stronger and Luca suddenly feels like he’s setting himself up for actual heart break! On my little heart. The perfect coming of age #loveozya novel. Bitchy ballerina’s, a soul crushing Injury, falling in love, finding yourself, racism and coming out! Madden nails every part of this book, I fell in love with Luca and loved how awkward and adorable he was! If @jenniferniven and @beckyalbertalli wrote an Australian love child it would be Anything But Fine. This was one of my most anticipated read for 2021 and it was perfection, Bravo Tobias Madden.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tess

    I received an early copy of this thanks to the ever lovely folks at Penguin Random House. This was a super super fun read! Amina is the cutest and I love her to bits. Can’t wait to handsell this one!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jayse

    This book was incredible!!! Flawless and evocative writing places Madden in a league of his own in debut novel filled with heart. In Anything But Fine, one missed step is all it takes to shatter not only Luka Mason's foot, but his entire world. An already accomished ballet dancer, Luka now faces an uncertain future as his dreams lay pieces. Ballet was Luka's entire world, it gave him escape, friends, a scholarship to a fancy private school and a goal for the future. All of that now ripped away. Sta This book was incredible!!! Flawless and evocative writing places Madden in a league of his own in debut novel filled with heart. In Anything But Fine, one missed step is all it takes to shatter not only Luka Mason's foot, but his entire world. An already accomished ballet dancer, Luka now faces an uncertain future as his dreams lay pieces. Ballet was Luka's entire world, it gave him escape, friends, a scholarship to a fancy private school and a goal for the future. All of that now ripped away. Starting at a new school is hard for anyone, but try being gay and on crutches in a small town school. Ugh. I could 100% identify with Luka's pain and frustration with this whole situation. As someone who went to a public school in a small regional town, Madden's writing instantly transported me back to the halls of Benalla College. Tobias Madden has written a debut suburb novel here which is uplifting and shows that even when life is 'Anything But Fine,' there's always something good just around the corner. I devoured the book in two sittings, it was one of those books which even when you put it down, it's all you think about and want to dive back into. I haven't had a book do that to me in a long time and it's one of the wonderful things I adore about reading. I was totally and utterly sucked in to the world Madden had crafted. If I could gush about this book any more and keep it coherent, I would. I just want to tell everyone to READ THIS BOOK!!! Perfect for lovers of Alice Oseman's Heartstopper or Becky Albertalli's Love Simon this punchy LGBT+ novel is filled with heart. Congratulations Tobias on this brilliant novel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joel Parnis

    Love-heart-eyes-emoji! First of all, as a performer, I loved how the novel tapped into the complexities of the profession in a very accessible way. Years of training, often since we're very young children, means that exploring our future is more complex than the usual choice of career most people are faced with towards the end of their time at high school. Many of us do not even remember a time when we didn't sing or dance, and our very personalities tend to become intertwined with our art. The f Love-heart-eyes-emoji! First of all, as a performer, I loved how the novel tapped into the complexities of the profession in a very accessible way. Years of training, often since we're very young children, means that exploring our future is more complex than the usual choice of career most people are faced with towards the end of their time at high school. Many of us do not even remember a time when we didn't sing or dance, and our very personalities tend to become intertwined with our art. The fear and anxiety that comes with the prospect of our art being removed from our lives (sometimes by choice, sometimes not) is incredibly real, begging the question 'who are we without it?' Many of us don't know the answer to that question. 'Anything But Fine' captures that, but in way that always serves the story and character first. On to the book itself (which I tore through in only a couple of days)! It has excellent pacing, which is consistent, never lagging and always had me wanting to turn the page. The prose is confident and full of youthful energy, the characters are well drawn and engaging, and the world of Ballarat, Ballet Schools, Boat Race, High Schools, etc. is effortlessly realised and felt pretty darn accurate to me (I grew up there haha!). I also loved how I always rooted for Luca (...and Robert, and Amina, and Jordan, and Grace...), even when he (they) made mistakes, his (their) choices always made sense to me. I love that the emotional journey that these characters go on always accurately reflected what felt right for them at the time, and even though many of the characters grow throughout the novel, and eventually realise perhaps they should have made a different choice, the text supports all the characters and their choices beautifully. Their choices and inner conflicts are always justified but the writer. I somehow loved, empathised with and understood all the different characters' conflicts at the same time, seeing each point of view, and loving how comfortably the text sat in the grey areas of life's choices. No one is perfect, and this book embraces all of life's messiness, never judging the characters for their occasional stumbles and embracing its heroes' flaws as equally as their attributes. I really loved that. Finally, this book is also just extremely entertaining! All this is even more impressive, considering it is a debut novel. I highly recommend picking up a copy and supporting a brand new author on a wonderful debut. As a young queer kid who grew up in Ballarat, I wish I'd had a book like this as a teenager. It would have made a world of difference. Also... shout out to Amina, who is just wonderful and I want her as my best friend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library)

    This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library You know how a couple of weeks ago I said I totally loved a book that I could totally see bits of my life in? Well, I had absolutely NOTHING in common with this book, and it still blew me away. Tobias Madden has been on my radar ever since he edited the Underdog #loveOzYa short story collection and I went, "Hang on, that name is familiar, why do I feel like I've heard of this author before? Why do I feel like I've seen him in a leotard?" I d This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library You know how a couple of weeks ago I said I totally loved a book that I could totally see bits of my life in? Well, I had absolutely NOTHING in common with this book, and it still blew me away. Tobias Madden has been on my radar ever since he edited the Underdog #loveOzYa short story collection and I went, "Hang on, that name is familiar, why do I feel like I've heard of this author before? Why do I feel like I've seen him in a leotard?" I don't know if you know, but as a teen I was obsessed with everything Cats: the musical (and no, I do not want to talk about the film, that thing is an absolute atrocity and should never have been made), and I dragged my poor, bewildered husband to see the Cats tour of Australia a few years ago, starring Madden himself, and that's where I knew the name because I'm that weirdo who memorises Cats actors. So when Madden announced his debut YA novel, an #ownvoices Australian story about a gay ballet dancer who suffers a catastrophic injury that changes his entire life, I was like, "This is about the performing arts, sign me up!" This book didn't disappoint. I listened to the audiobook version, and first of all the casting of Matthew Backer, whose performance definitely ranks up there with some of my favourites like Tavia Gilbert and January LaVoy, was absolutely spot on perfection. He put so much thought and love and emotion into voicing these characters, I swear it was a perfect match between narrator and author, almost like they conspired together to make this incredible product. The main character, Luca, had such an incredible voice even without narration, and the entire time I felt like I was listening to a story being told by my best friend. Like, I am legit sad that Luca is actually fictional because I low key have a lady crush on him. I was super glad that this book wasn't about Luca coming out: he was already an out and proud gay boy and the novel wasn't about his struggle with this. He knew exactly who he was when it came to his sexuality - his life, maybe less so, now that ballet, the one thing he had been working towards his entire life, was gone. I loved so much the diversity in this as well: Luca's new best friend (and one hundred per cent certified sweetheart) is of Indonesian descent and is a hijab-wearing Muslim, which I found so lovely, because Luca reflected how her faith was part of her life, and something he didn't have.  Luca's parent was a single father, a hear of gold guy who lovingly supported his son, and Luca's love interest was a popular half Japanese football playing rower and school captain. Definitely the best thing about this novel is the character voice throughout. I felt that the plot and the diversity of the characters gave it a really great solid foundation, but Luca's voice and attitude, his struggles, his triumphs, and the Aussie-ness, all through what sounded like a really authentic gay teen boy voice really pushed this novel all the way to five stars for me. I only recently discovered 'speeding up' audiobooks, but this novel was way too good to listen to anything but the speed intended. I absolutely loved it and I can't wait to read more performing arts stories from Madden.

  16. 4 out of 5

    elliot

    dnf at 62% i told myself i would finish this because it could at least contribute to my yearly goal, but dear fucking god, i just couldn't stand it anymore. maybe it's the fact that i'm aromantic, but for fuck's sake, jordan and luca's 'relationship' annoyed me so much i can't even form words right now. plus, i really hate the trope where closeted queer guy and openly queer guy are dating secretly. i know that happens in real life and all, but i really don't like reading about it. so that part is dnf at 62% i told myself i would finish this because it could at least contribute to my yearly goal, but dear fucking god, i just couldn't stand it anymore. maybe it's the fact that i'm aromantic, but for fuck's sake, jordan and luca's 'relationship' annoyed me so much i can't even form words right now. plus, i really hate the trope where closeted queer guy and openly queer guy are dating secretly. i know that happens in real life and all, but i really don't like reading about it. so that part is completely personal. luca was annoying as fuck, too. and i've said this already—that i am aware sixteen year olds usually are annoying (it's in our nature)—but GOD, luca just made my blood boil by just simply thinking stuff. i hated him with a burning passion. everything he did made me want to punch a wall. the writing style also bothered me for reasons i don't know yet. maybe i was just looking for things to shit on, but i said what i said. and then as if the book wasn't bad enough, there is suddenly a love triangle. i hate love triangles. everyone fucking hates love triangles. the ONLY thing i liked about this book was luca's dad, robert. he is an amazing man and i would absolutely die and kill for him. he was the only good thing about the whole 62% part of this book i've read. i really did want to finish this book. maybe it gets better later. i'll never know, though. i just couldn't stand it. maybe, being aromantic and all, i should just stop reading romance books because i keep hating them. so MAYBE, the problem was me here. maybe other people loved/will love this book. not everything is for everyone.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shelf Blame

    Thank you to Penguin Random House Australia and Netgalley for the ARC of this book! Luca's life revolves around ballet. He's in the studio more often than not, and all his dreams hinge on getting into the perfect school to pursue his passion. When a life-altering injury means Luca can no longer dance, his life stands still. To make matters worse, the private school he attends on a dance scholarship is no longer willing to let him go for free. Instead, Luca is forced to switch schools and gear up Thank you to Penguin Random House Australia and Netgalley for the ARC of this book! Luca's life revolves around ballet. He's in the studio more often than not, and all his dreams hinge on getting into the perfect school to pursue his passion. When a life-altering injury means Luca can no longer dance, his life stands still. To make matters worse, the private school he attends on a dance scholarship is no longer willing to let him go for free. Instead, Luca is forced to switch schools and gear up for PT, where he meets Jordan. Maybe there's a silver lining? This book was a quick and cute read. Luca is a likable character in a very 'disaster gay' sort of way. He's trying to navigate his life and figure out what he can even bring to the table now that ballet is no longer an option, and that mixed with the very teenage issues of crushes and homophobia and wanting something with someone who's still in the closet makes for some fantastic angst. Amina, Luca's friend, is a fantastic character. I loved her arc of going from quiet and subdued to owning herself and her confidence. Jordan is a bit of a typical 'jock in the closet character', but he was sweet. I liked him for Luca's sake. All this said this book was fine. I didn't absolutely love it, but I didn't dislike it at all. rep: gay MC, bi/Asian love interest, Indonesian Muslim side character CW: bullying, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, alcohol, death of a parent

  18. 4 out of 5

    Blue

    Want to see more... Bookstagram Website Thank you Penguin Teen Australia for this book in exchange for an honest review It only took a single step, a wrong move, for Luca’s world to crush around him. Luca’s private education, scholarship, friends and ballet career are shattered around him as he finds his world shifting around him, from that prime comfortable life, to being the new gay kid at a small town school with no one to depend on. Tobias Madden has come through with a realistic and entertain Want to see more... Bookstagram Website Thank you Penguin Teen Australia for this book in exchange for an honest review It only took a single step, a wrong move, for Luca’s world to crush around him. Luca’s private education, scholarship, friends and ballet career are shattered around him as he finds his world shifting around him, from that prime comfortable life, to being the new gay kid at a small town school with no one to depend on. Tobias Madden has come through with a realistic and entertaining contemporary that didn’t make me want to pull my eyes out! The characters felt modern and real and mixed with the detailed setting, it leaves you to reminisce on old school yard days and amongst the angst of teenagers. Definitely loved this one!!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I freaking loved this.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Narrelle

    Brilliant! What a fantastic book - heartfelt, smart, funny, meaningful and so lively! Luca, Amina and Jordan are wonderfully real and the ending perfect.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: death of a parent (in the past), career ending injuries, descriptions of physical injuries, homophobia, homophobic slurs, shitty friends, accidental outing. Review to follow but basically? I loved this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David O'Brien

    This book is glorious! Every time I was reading I had a big grin on my face. It took me right back to school myself, navigating all the relationships and friendships. This is a special story and everyone who reads it is going to take unique and special meaning away with them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Bookbookowl)

    Thank you so much to Penguin Books Australia for sending me a copy of Anything But Fine, in exchange for an honest review! Luca has been ballet dancing since he was 3. His entire life revolves around ballet and he’s finally about to audition for the Australian Ballet School, his future is set. Until he falls down a flight of stairs and shatters his foot. Knowing he will never be able to dance again, Luca’s life is in ruins. The only very faint glimmer of light is the incredibly good looking guy h Thank you so much to Penguin Books Australia for sending me a copy of Anything But Fine, in exchange for an honest review! Luca has been ballet dancing since he was 3. His entire life revolves around ballet and he’s finally about to audition for the Australian Ballet School, his future is set. Until he falls down a flight of stairs and shatters his foot. Knowing he will never be able to dance again, Luca’s life is in ruins. The only very faint glimmer of light is the incredibly good looking guy he sees at his OT appointments, Jordan. When Luca moves to a new school, he has the opportunity to see Jordan more often, because it just so happens he goes to school there too. Even if he is a super popular rowing star and Luca is…..not so popular. He knows how he feels about Jordan, but he’s fallen for straight guys before and wants to avoid that heartbreak again. Probably. I absolutely loved this book! I laughed and cried so many times. The characters were everything – Luca was so complex with his struggle to deal with the sudden devastation of his future, his new friend Amina was so sweet and reminded me very much of one of my own friends at school. Jordan was of those characters I wanted to be mad at but I couldn’t help being able to understand his own struggles. Anything But Fine was full of heart and humour and I will be straight up mad if we don’t get another book soon from Tobias. Ok Tobias?? 😅

  24. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Luca has followed his dreams and he is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. But one moment changes his whole life, with a missed step leading to a broken foot. Just as he thinks his life is ruined, he runs into Jordan, a gorgeous rowing star he is drawn to. Except Jordan appears to have a girlfriend, so surely it rules out any relationship with Luca... Meanwhile Luca needs to navigate his life, one without ballet and how to deal with his loss. I think I went into this one expecting Luca has followed his dreams and he is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. But one moment changes his whole life, with a missed step leading to a broken foot. Just as he thinks his life is ruined, he runs into Jordan, a gorgeous rowing star he is drawn to. Except Jordan appears to have a girlfriend, so surely it rules out any relationship with Luca... Meanwhile Luca needs to navigate his life, one without ballet and how to deal with his loss. I think I went into this one expecting more of a light and fun YA, but there were definitely more serious elements running through it. It was joyous and fun in places, but also heartbreaking in others. I loved the way the author contemplated both the romantic aspects and friendships in this one in such a realistic and thoughtful way and it was so enjoyable. Thanks so much to Penguin Books Australia for this advance review copy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tilly Booth

    I listened to the audiobook of Anything But Fine and despite it being anything but...this book was just eh, fine. I'm stoked for some #OzYA but this book just did not hit the mark for me and reading it, I had a few WTF moments and a lot of head shaking. I'll start off with what I loved and that is Amina. I loved this character and I would love to have a book centered around her completely. She was beautiful, funny, kind, and an amazing friend (a friend that Luca didn't appreciate enough if you a I listened to the audiobook of Anything But Fine and despite it being anything but...this book was just eh, fine. I'm stoked for some #OzYA but this book just did not hit the mark for me and reading it, I had a few WTF moments and a lot of head shaking. I'll start off with what I loved and that is Amina. I loved this character and I would love to have a book centered around her completely. She was beautiful, funny, kind, and an amazing friend (a friend that Luca didn't appreciate enough if you ask me!). There were some racist comments made towards her in the book and I would love for there to be a chance in a future book for that to be addressed. The book was an easy read, despite there being a lot of things I didn't like (see below), I also didn't feel the need to put the book down. The writing style is fun and easy to read (or listen to) and that saved the book as I ultimately would've put it down otherwise. Now, the bad. Luca's character was okay, as was the love interest, Jordans. However, the two characters together felt like a train wreck. Luca is a bit self-absorbed and once he meets Jordan, everything else disappears which I get, it's a YA romance and it's a first-time love story however, the way that Jordan treats Luca, is pretty rough and the way that Luca expects Jordan to be out, loud and queer and then getting upset about it, wasn't fair. They both seemed to expect a certain relationship and got mad at the other for not fulfilling that without even communicating their expectations which resulted in a lot of hurts. It made me dislike the relationship and part of me actually hoped that they wouldn't get together, agree that they both need time to better themselves, and then maybe come back together when they were ready. Their actions didn't scream a cute, healthy relationship but one that was founded on pain. Plus, Luca kinda sucked as a friend. As I said, he was a little self-absorbed, didn't reply to his first friends for a month, and then the way he hid things from Amina (WHEN SHE IS A QUEEN) putting her emotions last...I can't agree with that. Maybe it's because of my dislike of Luca and Jordan that made everything they did seem so unbearable but hey, if the author writes about Amina, I AM DOWN. However, if it's a sequel about these boys, no thank you. 2 stars...for Amina

  26. 5 out of 5

    Craig / Phil

    Thank you Penguin and Tobias for sending us a copy to read and review. Sometimes it can be daunting reading a genre out of your comfort zone but when it’s a very entertaining experience you wonder why you felt that way in the first place. Anything But Fine is a wholesome, heartfelt and tender story that reminded me of the John Hughes films of the 1980’s with a gay twist. For those of you who don’t know John Hughes, use goggle but he made the classic teen films in that era. Luca loves ballet and he’s Thank you Penguin and Tobias for sending us a copy to read and review. Sometimes it can be daunting reading a genre out of your comfort zone but when it’s a very entertaining experience you wonder why you felt that way in the first place. Anything But Fine is a wholesome, heartfelt and tender story that reminded me of the John Hughes films of the 1980’s with a gay twist. For those of you who don’t know John Hughes, use goggle but he made the classic teen films in that era. Luca loves ballet and he’s about to audition for his ultimate dream. But one mishap sends him falling down the stairs. Now a broken foot has shattered his dreams. Jordan is the captain of the school and loves rowing. When Luca arrives at the new school he has an immediate attraction to Jordan. Jordan’s straight but Luca thinks otherwise. A friendship is born and as Luca lives in a world without ballet he wonders who he really is and starts to fall for his new friend. A lovely, heartwarming young adult story about finding ones self again and navigating the world after a heartbreaking loss. There’s lots of diversity here, it’s honest, realistic, raw, fun, witty and a trip down memory lane for the older generation. It’s been a long time since I was in high school but I can only imagine that this is what life is like for teens in school now, it’s reeks authenticity and written from the heart. One of my favourite movies of the 80’s is The Breakfast Club and at the end of that film a Simple Minds song is played, while I was reading the final pages of this book I could hear that same song playing, knowing a happy ending was just around the corner. A great read and one that will stay with me for a long time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie (Bookish.Intoxication)

    Anything But Fine starts in a earth shattering way, throwing the reader into a world of turmoil and confusion. Luca's whole world view has shifted, his entire life plan is in ruin and he needs tonrefind himself and who he is without ballet. Written in such a way that you are lost within the pages, Madden has created a work that is easy to get into and filled with charismatic and authentic characters. I love that our protagonist, Luca, is so open and snarky. He is passionate and raw and Madden wr Anything But Fine starts in a earth shattering way, throwing the reader into a world of turmoil and confusion. Luca's whole world view has shifted, his entire life plan is in ruin and he needs tonrefind himself and who he is without ballet. Written in such a way that you are lost within the pages, Madden has created a work that is easy to get into and filled with charismatic and authentic characters. I love that our protagonist, Luca, is so open and snarky. He is passionate and raw and Madden writes his emotions so powerfully, making it easy to connect with the character. Luca's dad is the sweetest man. He is kind and gentle and protective of his son. He is also incredibly proud and that oozes from the pages in all of the scenes they share together. This kind of relationship is one rarely seen in YA fiction and it is so wonderful to see. Anything But Fine is the book I didn't know I needed. Filled with romance, hilarious protagonists and such an important message. It oozes staying true to yourself and your morals, remembering that you deserve happiness and to be treated like gold, not gravel. This book is a game changer, it is the perfect coming out and coming of age book and I am so glad that I got to read it. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy of this title. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kerran Olson

    4.5* This book was so cute and easy to read it got me out of a major reading slump. Love the nods to Aussie life and slang etc without it feeling overdone. Amina is a gem of a character, and I love Luca's relationship with his dad 4.5* This book was so cute and easy to read it got me out of a major reading slump. Love the nods to Aussie life and slang etc without it feeling overdone. Amina is a gem of a character, and I love Luca's relationship with his dad

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Offer

    What a lovely story about young love! I read it in a day. Thank you!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    It mentions Tim Tam slams. 'Nuff said. It mentions Tim Tam slams. 'Nuff said.

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