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Invisible Boys

Written by Holden Sheppard


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In a small town, everyone thinks they know you: Charlie is a hardcore rocker, who's not as tough as he looks. Hammer is a footy jock with big AFL dreams, and an even bigger ego. Zeke is a shy over-achiever, never macho enough for his family. But all three boys hide who they really are. When the truth is revealed, will it set them free or blow them apart?


‘This manuscript has tremendous energy and authenticity, as it explores what it is like to grow up gay in an insular regional community. Invisible Boys is a valuable contribution to the growing voices of younger LGBTIQA+ people.’
City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award judges’ report

'Sheppard pulls no punches in this story, challenging expectations and taking the reader on a dark journey through each boy's life, with only a sliver of light at the end providing hope for a brighter future. This book feels somewhat unmoored from time, with a raw edginess ... which brings to mind books like Puberty Blues and the work of Tim Winton.' Junior Books + Publishing

'Invisible Boys is full of genuine, authentic voices ... This is an important book for all young people, as it shows one size does not fit all. There is no right way to be gay, or to be anything else, for that matter.' Magpies

'The book is immediately engaging and engrossing, exploring the lives of three diverse male teenagers dealing with their homosexuality ... [Invisible Boys] is distinctively Western Australian with a well-constructed and truly surprising climax. Sheppard will win himself a vast number of fans with this impressive debut.' DNA magazine

'… this debut novel is one of those books that only comes around once in a generation ... to think that a whole new generation of young queer readers will have the opportunity to see themselves in this book: that’s a powerful thought.' Out in Perth

'Invisible Boys is a highly character-driven story, so it's only natural that the characters in the novel are well crafted ... As the synopsis likely suggests, the novel has a direct, central theme about the struggles of homosexuality in intolerant circumstances. It's not pleasant to read about, but it's an important perspective on privilege.' ReadPlus

'This is a confronting and challenging story which describes the pain of growing up gay in a small, conservative small-town community ... Sheppard has given us a brave book which deserves attention.' Good Reading magazine

'... throughout, Sheppard writes with unflinching honesty and an eye for authentic detail. It all makes for an impressive debut that’s thoroughly deserving of the accolades it has received.' The Weekend West

'The characters leap off the page, warts and all, and Sheppard writes with complexity and realism about sexual discovery, family and social rejection, coming of age (and coming out).' The Saturday Age

'... written with authenticity and sincerity, unflinching and unabashed Australian young adult literature at its finest. Simply brilliant.'
Diva Booknerd

'This is a tight and well-written novel full of emotion and energy ... this book should be stocked in multiples in both adult and YA sections.' Reading Time

'Invisible Boys is a fresh perspective on Australian teen life that still has an age-less quality about the story.' Underground Writers

'Arriving two years after the referendum for marriage equality, Invisible Boys is a timely novel. Sheppard expands our understanding of homosexuality from the point of view of adults to consider what it means to be a young guy who realises he is gay.' Westerly

'Nobody is perfect, nobody is off the hook and nobody will ever be the same again after the explosive events that take place in this book. This is a raw, sometimes confronting story that is best suited to readers aged 15+.’ Angela Crocombe, Chair of the Readings Young Adult Book Prize judging panel

'Gritty, harrowing, and confronting, Invisible Boys is an eye-opening exploration of three boys growing up in rural Australia, while coming to terms with being gay.' Readings


Western Australian Premier's Book Award (Winner 2019)
Readings Young Adult Book Prize (Shortlist 2020)
Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Book (2020)
Indie Book Award (Longlisted 2020)
Victorian Premier's Literary Award (Shortlisted 2020)
Kathleen Mitchell Award (Winner 2019)
City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award (Winner 2018)
Ray Koppe Residency Award (Winner 2017)

ISBN 9781925815566 (Paperback)
Formats B Format (198 x 130mm) (Paperback)
Categories Young Adult
Award Winning
T.A.G. Hungerford Winners
Great Big Book Read Books
Stories for Change
Publisher Fremantle Press
Edition 1st
Publication Year 2019
Pages 344
  • Holden sheppard web size

    Holden Sheppard

    Holden Sheppard is an award-winning Young Adult author born and bred in Geraldton, Western Australia. His debut novel Invisible Boys won numerous accolades including the 2018 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award and the 2019 Western Australian Premier's Book Prize for an Emerging Writer. Holden’s writing has been published in Griffith Review, Westerly, Page Seventeen, Indigo journal, and the Bright Lights, No City anthology (Margaret River Press, 2019). He has also written for 10 Daily, the Huffington Post, the ABC, DNA magazine and FasterLouder. He serves as the Deputy Chair of Writing WA, and as an ambassador for Lifeline WA. Holden is a misfit: a gym junkie who has played Pokémon competitively, a sensitive geek who loves aggressive punk rock, and a bogan who learned to speak French. Read more