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?
Anything But Fine by Tobias Madden is a Queer YA Contemporary by author Tobias Madden.
Luca has his dreams of being a professional ballerina are destroyed when he falls down a set of stairs crushing his ankle leaves him forever changed. The falls not only changes his plans to attend a prestigious ballet academy, but results in his having to change schools and basically start all over. He struggles to adjust to his new reality, and in the meantime lashes out at those around him until he barely recognizes himself anymore. In the end, he’ll have to confront his mistakes and his fears in order to move on with his life.
I’m struggling to write this review because I didn’t hate it, but there was so much about it that I didn’t enjoy that I don’t know where to begin. I suppose I should start with what worked for me. Our story is told solely from the point of view of 16 year old Luca and he is a strong lead. He’s so far from perfect and makes mistakes left and right, but he acknowledges them eventually. His reactions to his injury were relatable ( I was a doctor’s decision away from having my own ankle fused after as accident, and the fears of learning to walk again are real) . I didn’t appreciate the amount of lying he did to his best friend Amina, but he was stuck in between a rock and a hard place in that situation. I love love love Luca’s dad, seriously can we get a prequel that tells the heartbreaking romance between him and Lucas mom . I also adored his best friend Amina, with her organization and study skills she was just an absolute sweetheart.
The biggest place that this went wrong for me was the romance aspect. I did not root for Luca and Jordan. Yes, Jordan should have been allowed to come out at his own pace, but it wasn’t right for him to start/continue a relationship with Luca when he resulted in him treating Luca like a dirty secret he was ashamed of. I just honestly didn’t find any redeeming qualities to Jordan at all. I didn’t find the flirty texts in between his ghosting of Luca to be sweet or swoony, and I found him to be a bit manipulative. Also while I expected some homophobic jerk characters in the story, because all Queer YA contemporaries have them, I wasn’t prepared for the Islamophobia and racism thrown in the mix.
In the end, Anything But Fine by Tobias Madden is a Queer YA contemporary with a diverse cast of characters and a young man’s life adjusting and coping with a major change to his life plan.