Invisible Boys



Invisible Boys is Holden Sheppard's debut novel (Fremantle Press, 2019). It won the 2018 City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award, the 2019 Kathleen Mitchell Award and the 2017 Ray Koppe Residency Award.

Invisible Boys is a raw, confronting YA novel, tackling homosexuality, masculinity, anger and suicide with a nuanced and unique perspective. Set in regional Western Australia, the novel follows three sixteen-year-old boys in the throes of coming to terms with their homosexuality in a town where it is invisible – and so are they. Invisible Boys depicts the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity with painful honesty, devastating consequence and, ultimately, hope. 


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?


"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

"Muscular, gritty, raw, scathing and yet pleading for understanding ... Such a gripping read. Intense but with laughs and some tender moments. And tears. Definitely tears!" 

- Carolyn Gilpin, Author 

"When I turned the last page on this book, I think I finally breathed out the air I'd been holding in the whole time. This is gritty, raw and confronting. It's everything that challenging literature should be." 

- Alyssa Shapland, Goodreads 

"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 Hungerford Award judges’ report

"Wow, packs a massive punch! An emotional rollercoaster of issues faced by the key characters exploring their nascent sexuality & first homosexual experiences. This novel is wonderful, exuberant and terrible all at once as these young men full of promise, navigate their feelings & identity in Australian society today." 

- Emma, Goodreads


Invisible Boys is now available for pre-order at all bookstores across Australia and New Zealand. 

If online is your thing, you can pre-order the book from the following retailers: 

If you live in territories outside of Australia and New Zealand, you can enquire with your local bookshop about ordering a copy in or alternatively order a paperback or e-book from: 


Holden Sheppard said when he was sixteen and growing up gay in country Western Australia, he felt himself to be truly unseen. He said knowing this fictionalised story would now be shared with the world was overwhelming. 


"I wrote this novel for anyone who has struggled, or still is. I want the pain of these characters to be visible to the world," he said.


"I want the world to understand that boys and men suffer, and for gay boys in particular, even in 2018, this struggle can feel like the end of the world, but it isn’t.’

Media Coverage for Invisible Boys:

Interviews about Invisible Boys:

Radio Interviews about Invisible Boys

  • Radio Fremantle with Dita Jevons, Thu 22 Nov 2018

  • ABC Radio Perth with Gillian O'Shaughnessy, Fri 16 Nov 2018

  • RTR FM Artbeat with Rodrigo, Fri 16 Nov 2018

Cover image of Invisible Boys, which will be released on Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Holden Sheppard (right) pictured with City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt on the night of the Hungerford Award win, Thursday, 15 November 2018 


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