Anything But Fine
– Tobias Madden –
Penguin Random House Australia
Published 31 August 2021
Ballet is everything for Luca. It’s his future, his time, all his effort and his friendships. So when he falls down the stairs at his ballet studio and breaks his leg, it changes everything. When the doctors say he will never dance again, Luca isn’t sure what that means for his future. Who is he without ballet. When he loses his scholarship and has to move school and he shuts out his friends, the only bright side is seeing Jordan at OT. Jordan is the school captain and rowing champion at Luca’s new school. Luca thinks there might be something between them but Jordan is apparently straight. And has a girlfriend.
Anything But Fine is authentically Australia, from the Ballarat setting, to the slang and high school culture. #LoveOzYA
One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was Luca’s friendship with Amina. Amina is nerdy, talks a lot and isn’t who Luca thought he would be spending time with. She’s also as different from his old friends as possible. Amina is Indonesian-Australian and Muslim. She is absolutely fantastic and just what Luca needs. Luca also learns to be a better friend to Amina and more deserving of her. He makes some pretty lousy mistakes in this book, both towards Amina and his old friends, as well as to his dad and other adults who have been there for him. But Luca isn’t afraid to own up to these mistakes and learn from them.
Luca is out and proud and comfortable with his sexuality. He wears t-shirts with rainbow hearts over the pocket. Jordan is the complete opposite. Not only that, but Jordan has mates who are homophobic and abusive and it takes Jordan time to figure out where he stands and who he is. It is hard for Luca to give him the time he needs. Luca must face some pretty nasty homophobia at his new school. It’s made harder when it is Jordan’s friends dishing out the abuse and Jordan is at first reluctant to stand up against his rowing mates. Again, we are given some fantastic character growth as Jordan and other characters learn to stand against bullying and abuse, and not just against homophobia but also racism and discrimination.
Anything But Fine is a fantastic realistic fiction novel, with all the things I love about YA fiction – heart, friendship, romance and discovering who you are and who you are meant to be.
Category: Young adult fiction
Genre: Contemporary, Sport
Themes: LGBT, romance, ballet, rowing, high school, friendship, racism, homophobia, sexual identity, injury, coming of age, grief, family.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Frequent coarse language. Sexual references, reference to pornography, masturbation. Homophobia and racism. Violence and fighting.
Published: 31 August by Penguin Random House Australia
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 336 pages.