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?
Invisible Boys (Fremantle Press, 2019) is Holden Sheppard's multi-award winning debut novel. A raw, confronting upper YA novel, it tackles homosexuality, masculinity, anger and suicide with a nuanced and unique perspective.
Set in Geraldton 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.
First edition cover image of Invisible Boys
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Invisible Boys has won the following awards and accolades:
Winner, 2019 WA Premier's Prize for an Emerging Writer
Winner, 2019 Kathleen Mitchell Award
Winner, 2018 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award
Winner, 2017 Ray Koppe Residency Award
Shortlisted, 2020 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
Shortlisted, 2020 Readings Young Adult Book Prize
Notable Book, 2020 Children's Book Council of Australia
Longlisted, 2020 Indie Book Awards
Highly Commended, 2018 ASA Emerging Writers' Mentorship Prize
Voted #17 of Australia's Top 50 Kids & YA Books by Better Reading Magazine, 2021
Holden Sheppard (right) pictured with City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt on the night of the Hungerford Award win, Thursday, 15 November 2018.
The film and television rights to Invisible Boys were optioned in 2020 by director Nick Verso (Boys in the Trees, Nowhere Boys) and producer Tania Chambers OAM (How to Please a Woman, Kill Me Three Times).
In late 2020 and early 2021, the project received development funding from Screenwest
and Screen Australia.
In November 2021, the Invisible Boys TV series was announced as the successful recipient of a joint development initiative between streaming service Stan and Screenwest, and is now in development as a ten-episode TV series.
The three narrators of Invisible Boys (L-R): Zeke Calogero, Kade "Hammer" Hammersmith, Charlie Roth. Illustrations by Lana Pecherczyk.
PRAISE FOR INVISIBLE BOYS
'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
'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). A galvanising read for adolescent readers, and frank about the issues raised by queer teens in a way they'll appreciate."
- The Sydney Morning Herald
'... 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 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 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 Magazine
'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.'
'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