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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

    C.G. Drews

    This was a fun and feelsy contemporary! Ex-ballerinas, injuries, gay teens, existential angst -- it has it all. It also features some messy kids and their dramatic decisions, so when the character arcs kicked in, ahhh, it was nice watching these kids grow. The story follows Luca, who is destined for the Australian Ballet School, until a freak fall down the stairs shatters his ankle. Ballet was his entire life; he lived, breathed, and existed for dance. So to snatch that away and leave him a kid o This was a fun and feelsy contemporary! Ex-ballerinas, injuries, gay teens, existential angst -- it has it all. It also features some messy kids and their dramatic decisions, so when the character arcs kicked in, ahhh, it was nice watching these kids grow. The story follows Luca, who is destined for the Australian Ballet School, until a freak fall down the stairs shatters his ankle. Ballet was his entire life; he lived, breathed, and existed for dance. So to snatch that away and leave him a kid on crutches, with ptsd from the accident, no friends (because both jealousy and hurt keep him away from his ballet circle) and forced to change schools...he's miserable. He is so miserable. There's a lot of lashing out from Luca and struggles about his worth and moving on. He starts channeling a lot of his obsessive focus into a crush. Enter Jordan Tanaka-Jones. School captain of the rowing team, exceptionally hot, and also....straight. I appreciated that Luca was a disaster but also aware of it. He made the mistakes, and acknowledged them, even though it took time. His relationship with his dad is really heartfelt, but fractious as they both are grieving losing things. But it's always nice to see supportive parents!! Also while Luca is out and proud as gay, Jordan is....unsure. So there's a lot of stress and angst as Jordan grapples with his sexuality and wants what they have to stay hidden. I always really feel for the closeted teens. Luca's friendship with Amina was lovely though -- their connection and loyalty to each other was really sweet 🥺 Amina is Indonesian and Muslim, and there was a few parts where Luca was like "people get offended/touchy about religion and stuff" which made me hard-side-eye him. But he did grow. A lot of Luca's arc was learning to look outside himself. It's a story of building yourself when everything you thought you knew is stripped away. There are funny moments and grieving moments, and fantastic friendships and a softly angsty romance. Am glad I read this one!! And also really love the stripey cover!!

  2. 4 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. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    BALLET GAYS, I REPEAT, BALLET GAYS.

  4. 5 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. 4 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. 5 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.’

  10. 4 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.

  11. 5 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!

  12. 4 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.

  13. 5 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!

  14. 4 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I freaking loved this.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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.

  22. 5 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.

  23. 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

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Offer

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

  25. 5 out of 5

    Louise

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

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna S

    I thought the book was great! My favourite thing about it was that it wasn’t just a same old. Lovey dove girls romance story but it was told from a guys point of view. Because books are never told from there perspective and I believe that there should be more romance novels written by guys and from there point of view. I loved how it was a tragedy that brought the two boys together and how Luca shows us that you can overcome bad things by finally going to the studio.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    read in one day and it was cute and talked about some serious issues and it wasn’t all just stereotypes

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jem

    Where do I start with this one....I finished this in one evening on a Sunday night a couple of weeks back, I just couldn't put it down. I love it when a book does that to me 😊 I really enjoyed @tobias_madden writing style and the way he explored the challenges faced by the characters. Being set in Australia this was some Aussie humour and I loved that. It was a roller-coaster of emotions while reading but that has made me love it even more 😊 . The book follows Luca as he navigates his new reality Where do I start with this one....I finished this in one evening on a Sunday night a couple of weeks back, I just couldn't put it down. I love it when a book does that to me 😊 I really enjoyed @tobias_madden writing style and the way he explored the challenges faced by the characters. Being set in Australia this was some Aussie humour and I loved that. It was a roller-coaster of emotions while reading but that has made me love it even more 😊 . The book follows Luca as he navigates his new reality and how he is going to move forward. Everything has changed and he is anything but fine. I enjoyed Lucas growth throughout the story, with the help of his dad, new friends and old friends he comes to realise that perhaps there is a way forward despite it all. Luca meets Jordan and Amina early on and they both help him in there own way to move forward. I instantly fell in love with Amina, she is always herself and cares alot about others, despite all that is going on for her. There is a mystery to Jordan that unravels as the story progresses and we come to learn more about him that what he shows the world. I loved the banter between the three of them when they were together. . One of my fave quotes from the book is "How are we to know who we are, when we've only just begun?" 😊 This is definitely being added to my list of books I will reread forever. I definitely recommend this one to contemporary lovers and if your looking for a nice easy read. It comes out at the end of August and you can preorder it now 😊

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amber Wendy

    I loved EVERYTHING about this story, the honestly, the warmth, the characters, the humour (which had me inappropriately giggling out loud as my husband tried to sleep beside me late into the night when I really should have put it down hours ago) all of it! Luca’s story gave me all the feels and I will be forever grateful to Tobias for giving us this world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Penguin Books Australia

    The following reviews have been shared by Penguin Random House Australia, publisher of Anything But Fine. 'Anything But Fine is everything wonderful I love in a book: characters so real they breathe, a rollercoaster of a story that made me laugh, cry, and swoon, and vivid, gorgeous writing. Brilliant.' –Jennifer Niven, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places 'I was hooked from the first paragraph and I absolutely loved this book! At its heart is such a fresh, diverse, heartwa The following reviews have been shared by Penguin Random House Australia, publisher of Anything But Fine. 'Anything But Fine is everything wonderful I love in a book: characters so real they breathe, a rollercoaster of a story that made me laugh, cry, and swoon, and vivid, gorgeous writing. Brilliant.' –Jennifer Niven, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places 'I was hooked from the first paragraph and I absolutely loved this book! At its heart is such a fresh, diverse, heartwarming love story that anyone will love, no matter how they identify. I cried at times but I smiled so often while I was reading this. While it was at times raw, devastating and real, it was such a fun, cute and romantic read, and I fell in love with Luca over and over again! I was cheering for Luca from the beginning and continue to cheer for him beyond the final page.' – Gary Lonesborough, award-winning author of The Boy from the Mish 'Anything But Fine is a gorgeous story about love, loss, friendship and hope – and about finding your true self after your one and only dream shatters into a thousand pieces.' – Fleur Ferris, bestselling author of Risk ‘In Anything But Fine, Tobias Madden delivers a stirring meditation on identity and grief. Sweet, warm and thoroughly delightful, it will quickly dance its way into your heart.’ – Krystal Sutherland, bestselling author of Our Chemical Hearts ‘Anything But Fine is a hilarious and moving portrait of what it means to reassess your life when your future suddenly looks very different to what you’ve always dreamed. Tobias Madden has created a queer love story that is fresh, romantic and thoroughly entertaining.’ – Erin Gough, award-winning author of Amelia Westlake ‘Sincere, charming, emotional, and chaotic, Anything But Fine is an honest portrayal of how equally terrifying and beautiful figuring out who we are and who we can be is.’ – Jonny Garza Villa, author of Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun ‘Luca and the whole cast of Anything But Fine will forever be pirouetting in my soul! With so much humour and heart, Tobias Madden shows that whether it's coming out, romance, friendship, school, or career ambitions, there's no singular right way to get where you're going. Even when seemingly insurmountable obstacles come your way, sometimes the biggest triumphs come from dancing into the unexpected.’ – Jason June, author of Jay’s Gay Agenda ‘A messy, funny, and heartwarming book that brilliantly tackles the difficulties of grieving your biggest dreams, the headrush of first love, and the complexities of friendship.’ – Adiba Jaigirdar, author of The Henna Wars ‘Heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting and romantic, Anything But Fine explores how hard the fall from a great high can be, and what it means to pick yourself back up again. With unforgettable, realistic characters you can’t help but root for, this contemporary is a must-read for everyone who’s ever been left wondering how to find themselves again when their entire world is uprooted.’ – Sophie Gonzales, author of Only Mostly Devastated

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