May 18, 2022

ARC REVIEW: Anything but Fine by Tobias Madden

Anything but Fine by Tobias Madden
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Format: eARC (From Publisher via NetGalley)
Publisher: Page Street Kids 

Anything but Fine by Tobias Madden is a heartbreaking and emotional young adult contemporary novel. Luca is an up-and-coming ballet dancer with a bright and promising future. However, that bright and promising future is taken away from him when he falls down the stairs and breaks multiple bones in his foot. Luca’s whole world changes and he’s forced to rediscover who he is without dance (as if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough by itself). The author takes readers on a journey of many emotions, from triumph to heartbreak and everything in between.

It was super cool that the book was set in Australia. There are loads of books set in the USA or Great Britain, so I think that aspect helped set the book apart from others. I was somewhat confused at times by some of the differences in vocabulary (Australian English vs. “American” English), but it didn’t interfere with my understanding or enjoyment of the book overall. With regards to the audiobook, I really enjoyed Matthew Backer’s narration of the story (his accent is *chef’s kiss* amazing). 

While I enjoyed the romance between Luca and Jordan, Amina is by far my favorite character in the book. She is awesome, and so much better than Luca’s initial friends (this is a total case of quality versus quantity - Grace is the only redeemable one from the “bunheads” in my opinion). Amina is adorable - I thought it was so cute how she’s been dreaming of giving the speech at the farewell assembly for years. I wish I had someone like her in my life - Luca is lucky to have met her (their friendship is definitely one of the major silver linings that came out of his injury).   

Overall, Anything but Fine is an entertaining and fun read. I would recommend it to those in search of queer contemporary young adult romances. I look forward to reading more books by Tobias Madden in the future. Thank you to the author, the publisher, the team at TBR and Beyond Tours, and NetGalley for my complimentary review copy of the book. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review Anything but Fine immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed Anything but Fine. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 

TRIGGER WARNINGS: homophobia, homophobic slurs, racism, racist slurs, accidental outing, grief, death (of a parent, past), sports injuries

About the Book

All it takes is one missed step for your life to change forever.

Luca Mason knows exactly who he is and what he wants: In six months, he’s going to be accepted into the Australian Ballet School, leave his fancy private high school, and live his life as a star of the stage—at least that’s the plan until he falls down a flight of stairs and breaks his foot in a way he can never recover from.

With his dancing dreams dead on their feet, Luca loses his performing arts scholarship and transfers to the local public school, leaving behind all his ballet friends and his whole future on stage.

The only bright side is that he strikes up unlikely friendships with the nicest (and nerdiest) girl at his new school, Amina, and the gorgeous, popular, and (reportedly) straight school captain, Jordan Tanaka-Jones.

As Luca’s bond with Jordan grows stronger, he starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting himself up for another heartbreak?

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About the Author

Tobias is an author and editor from Sydney, Australia. His debut young adult fiction novel, ANYTHING BUT FINE, is out now in Australia and New Zealand (Penguin Teen), and coming to the US March 29 2022 (Page Street YA).

​Originally from Ballarat, Tobias worked for ten years as a performer, touring Australia and New Zealand with musicals such as Mary PoppinsCATSSingin’ in the Rain, and Guys and Dolls. In 2019, he edited and published UNDERDOG, the first #LoveOzYA short story anthology for previously unpublished Aussie young adult fiction writers. Also in 2019, he wrote the cabaret show Siblingship, which played to sold out audiences in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra. Tobias is a passionate member of the #LoveOzYA and LGBTQ+ communities, and currently works in publishing as a Digital Marketing Executive and YA Publicist.

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