Anything But Fine by Tobias Madden | Book Review


Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was brilliant! One of the best YA novels I’ve read.

Genre: YA contemporary fiction, Romance
Author: Tobias Madden
Published: August 2021
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 336 (paperback)

I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this – it surpassed expectations and had me utterly hooked. I’d heard many great reviews before picking this up for myself, so had been a little nervous that this was going to be overhyped. But no! It’s amazing and deserves every ounce of hype there is.

Anything But Fine is a really great story about Luca after he breaks his foot and can’t do ballet … maybe never again. Being an aspiring professional ballet, this utterly crushes his dreams and so the book follows his journey as he grapples with the gravity of his situation on top of social pressures when he ends up moving schools as well.

I personally enjoyed the exploration of school and high-level sport combined. This is something I experience through high school and I liked Tobias’s way of representing how closely enmeshed your own personal identity becomes with that of the sport you’re known for being the top at. It’s a really complicated thing, and things like dance and gymnastics (which was what I did) are quite unique in how that looks. So hats off in that regard.

The characters in this have to be the best thing. Amina was awesome and the friendship that forms between her and Luca is so lovely. She’s spectacularly socially awkward and I love how Luca becomes her hypeman.

And then. And thennn there’s the sexual tension throughout – with Luca and a guy he has the hots for. For me, this rivalled the likes of Becky Albertalli and Mackenzi Lee in terms of queer writing. It was just so enjoyable and I don’t remember the last time I was so damn invested in the outcome of a character’s love life.

Topics of prejudice, bullying, friendships and father-son relationships were all packed into this. It’s really got it all.

If you’re looking for a lighthearted, easy-to-read story, then this is it.

Grab a copy!

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