Wrong answers only by Tobias Madden

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Although this looks like another LGBQTI+ romance in the vein of Madden's other novels (Anthing but fine, and Take a bow Noah Mitchell) Wrong answers only actually becomes more a celebration of platonic teenage friendship. It is his relationship with his childhood friend CeCe that sees Marco through all the challenges of his life.

Marco is a high-achiever with his sights set on becoming a surgeon, but when it looks like his dreams of studying at Melbourne University are about to be realised, he starts falling apart. He suffers panic attacks when he even begins to think about moving from Ballarat and beginning his biomedical degree. Fortunately for him he is offered an escape from all his worries with the offer of an incredible holiday aboard a cruise ship with his long estranged uncle Renzo.

Thus the fun begins: cruise life is full of dance performances and parties, interspersed with outings to beautiful locations along the Mediterranean Sea. Plus, for Marco, there is instant attraction to hot surfer dude Hunter, a pleasure seeker with a bad reputation.

Madden realistically portrays the struggle of a high-achiever to come to terms with his anxiety about failure; and the fraught relationship with his concerned Italian migrant family is also well-drawn. But it is the up and down relationship with soul-mate CeCe that really pulls at the heart-strings, as they manoeuvre the hurtful but also the tender moments of their friendship.

I liked how this novel did not follow predictable plot lines, and not all the problems in Marco’s life are resolved. He has to learn that there aren’t always answers at the back of the book, life is full of uncertainties, and the best advice is ‘Let life surprise you’.

Themes: Panic attack, Anxiety, LGBQTI+, Friendship, Family.

Helen Eddy