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Invisible Boys

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,152 ratings  ·  304 reviews
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 is a
Paperback, 1st, 344 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Fremantle Press
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Average rating 4.43  · 
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 ·  1,152 ratings  ·  304 reviews

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Holden Sheppard
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote this book which is how I know 100% that it is ALL KILLER NO FILLER. Buy ten for you and ten for your mates!
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible story which absolutely blew me away. It’s certainly not hard to understand why this book has been winning awards.

Aussie author Holden Sheppard has written an outstanding novel that touches on many issues, one of them is homosexuality. A powerful, raw and emotional story that will stay with me for a long time. Having seen this author promoting his book on social media I was curious as to what all the hype was about and was this book as good as everyone was saying it was. N
“There are two ways out of this poxy sh*thole of a town: you leave in a blaze of glory and never look back, or you die. I don’t want to die. I’ve wanted the blaze of glory option since I was a little kid.”

A lot of teens feel this way at Charlie Roth’s age, sixteen, but he does have more reason than most. He lives in Geraldton. Western Australia, about 400km north of Perth, the state capital. It may be called a city (the local government area is about 38,000 people), but it is all by itself
Shile (Hazard's Version) Maroon on semi-hiatus
Putting this on hold might come back later. The writing is amazing, the audiobook is great but my brain can't take in all this at the moment. ...more
Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard. (2019).

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 who is never macho enough for his family.
But all 3 boys hide who they really are and when the truth is revealed, will it set them free or blow them apart?

It's hard to write this review without g
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queerlit
It's not often I describe a book or a story as unfair, but that's the first word that comes to mind. It's not fair to make readers get so invested in your characters, watch them go through so much they hope (and pray) for the best for them, only to deliver such a heart-wrenching conclusion. It really hurt me, reading the last chapters of this book; it was intense and overwhelming and it stayed with me long after the last page.

This is YA done brilliantly but also incredibly cruel in a real way.
Three teenage boys, all students at a Catholic school; one a football star, one academically gifted and one a misfit punk rocker. They couldn't be more different from each other but they all share the same secret no one must ever know. That is until one of them is outed, and they must all face who they really are under the facade they present to the world.

This is a powerful and gritty tale of how the three boys deal with the realisation that they are gay. The boys live in the small West Australi
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book, highly recommend . Thank you Kazza for bringing this to my attention. The story is told from three different POV- each MC is very different so seeing each the world through each other’s views worked well. Set in a very small Australian town, clearly everyone knows everything in a flash, people are closed minded, ignorant and thoughtless. Yet this felt very real, each MC struggles with their own family issues, personal insecurities, growing up and feeling out their way. I couldn’t ...more
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
In the small rural town of Geraldton in Western Australia, boys are raised on toxic masculinity with a stoic and emotional detachment. Whether you're the alluring and mysterious musician, the overachiever or attractive athlete, your worth is valued by your achievements and success. There is no room for tolerance within the draconian Catholic School community, boys are manipulated and forged by their faith, threatened by authority for daring to push societal boundaries.

Musician Charlie Roth has b
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible book, I couldn’t put it down and now I’ve finished I want to sob my eyes out. A powerful novel about friendship and identity, and an important novel about the experience of gay teens in a small town full of small minded people. I hope lots of people read this and hear its message.
Levi Huxton
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a cathartic and emotional read, dredging up all of the loneliness, yearning and pain I felt in the lead up to coming out (and beyond, if I’m honest). I even cried reading the acknowledgements at the end! I was a bit of a mess reading this, but a happy, grateful mess.

Three teenagers come to terms with same-sex attraction in the remote working class town of Geraldton, Western Australia (on a quiet night, you can hear the waves break standing in the city centre). There’s a nerd, a punk an
Laurie Steed
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Zeke, Charlie and Hammer are three high school boys growing up in a small country town. All hide who they really are by choice or by necessity.

Invisible Boys is one hell of a YA ride. It's also a deeply humanistic book, and unconditional in the best possible sense. In opening up his characters to the whole gamut of feelings from grief to joy to guilt and to pride, Holden encourages us as readers to feel what it's like to be them. In a space that's designed to produce conformity, that makes for
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, hasn't YA lit changed since my day? And for the far, far better. It's hard to add to the raves that keep getting heaped upon Invisible Boys so I'll have to settle with reiterating them. Yes, it's blisteringly good. Yes, it's fucking real. Yes, it repeatedly punches you in the guts. Yes, it's ALL THE FEELS AT ONCE. Oh, and most definitely yes, it's genuinely IMPORTANT. But most of all I adored it for the beautiful things it says about love, friendship, family, finding yourself and the embar ...more
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, important book. Heart breaking in the necessary way that stories this important must be.

(As an aside kudos for the correct and perfect use of Italian and for the Sicilian sauce making session that reminded me of being a very young child running around fields in Sicily while my.mother's extended family did this.)
Cass Moriarty
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Invisible Boys (Fremantle Press 2019), the debut novel by Holden Sheppard, had already won three awards before it was even published. And from the opening pages, I understood why. This intensely personal work of fiction features four boys, or young men, who could not be more different from each other, and yet I cared so deeply about each of them, about their feelings, their behaviour and their fates. The characterisation in this novel is so well-crafted that I was immediately immersed in their l ...more
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an era-defining, barrier-breaking, eye-opening, and very necessary book, coming at just the right time in our political climate. The characters are authentic, the dialogue real and snappy, the pace keeps you on your toes, the writing packs a punch with its rawness and honesty, and the ending is hopeful. I've never read a book like it before and Australia needs more like it. Recommended for everyone, straight or gay. ...more
Josh Radwell
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Invisible Boys" by Holden Sheppard. [Publishing October, 2019 from @fremantlepress]
Thank you again Fremantle Press for this advanced copy! I am so grateful. 🤩 And what a wonderful, heartbreaking read it was.
Sheppard explores ideas of masculinity, sexuality, identity, belonging, feeling like an outcast, feeling that you'll lose the things you dreamt of, mental health, and suicide, with a genuine voice and a compelling cast of characters. This was a raw, powerful story; it was crude
Ryan Buckby
Feb 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I found this book by a glance at a bookshelf at a bookshop and read the little heading and was interested straight away and the book didn't disappoint.

Plot: This story centers around three normal but very different teenagers living in a very conservative perth town, Charlie who is the rocker and annoys his teachers, Kade 'Hammer' the AFL prodigy and bully and lastly Zeke the academic shy and quiet kid. I loved how aussie this book was and I loved getting all the little references from how the
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I like that this book is explicitly set in the present with social media and mobile phones.  It could have easily been set in the '90s and the town's general reaction to gay students would fit in nicely, but having it in the present helps illustrate that homophobia and ignorance continues to this day even in countries like Australia. Not that it should surprise anyone with the government's attempt at introducing the aptly "Religious Discrimination Bill", which would allow homophobia under the gu ...more
Michael Trant
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolute gut punch of a book. Coming from a small town myself, and knowing Gero intimately, Invisible Boys hit me in a way I didn't expect. Holden's writing is crisp, raw and does not hold back, but it is not all doom and gloom. His local references, the banter between characters and dry observations on small town life had me chuckling in recognition.

This is a powerful piece of work, well deserved of the awards it has already won and those I've no doubt it will in the future.
Michael Earp
I'm struggling to find the words to describe this book. It's raw, unflinching and difficult. Because that is life for these characters and many of the IRL queers that grow up in similar small towns. It presents a warts (and bruises, and broken noses, and homophobia and misogyny) and all view of the trauma inflicted upon some people by their community, their family, their friends... sometimes everyone around them including themselves.
I'd highly recommend this with self-care provisos.
Lisa Walker
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a very emotional read for me. It's a gritty and authentic story of teenage boys dealing with masculinity, homophobia and coming-of-age. I haven't read a book before that deals so honestly with these issues. I think this is an important book for young adults (in the older range), but also for adults, especially those who have teenagers, or are working with them. Not to mention that it is a page-turner! ...more
Emir Ibañez
Mar 22, 2022 rated it it was amazing
There is Hell, which is bearable. And then there is growing-up-queer-in-a-small-town Hell. If you survive that, you're basically unbeatable. ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen, lgbtqia, 2019, cbca_2020
Charlie, Zeke, Hammer and Matt are four lads in Geraldton, Western Australia. We hear from them what being gay means in a small town populated by small minds. Sheppard's writing is raw, unflinching and visceral. He explores the embodiment of masculinity, the struggles of homosexuality and the heinous lack of support and trust. It's a confronting read as the lads' vulnerabilities are gut wrenching. I wanted to pull Charlie to safety so many times.

There are letterbombs in the novel, anonymous let
Sean Kennedy
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book destroyed me in so many ways, sending me down a wormhole of my own teenage memories and escapades. It is raw and honest, and a prime example of why ‘own voices’ novels are so important and necessary.
Kali Napier
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. The quintessential 'coming-of-age' novel. Sheppard weaves the stories and perspectives of several teen boys coming to terms with their identities and sexual orientation in the MidWest town of Geraldton. Each of them yearns to get away, but they are trapped by the restrictions of family expectation, small-town gossipy minds, strictures of religion, and lack of role models (and prospective partners, too, I guess). The townscape is evoked so viscerally, I was yearning to go home to Gero. This ...more
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely awesome book - I had laughter, sadness, happiness, tears, surprise and smiles while reading this book, what more could you want.

Set in Geraldton WA, this is the story of four lads, three at school and one slightly older, and how they deal with being gay in a small town, and the impacts it has on all of their lives.

This is a really good story, which I would recommend to absolutely everyone - young, old, gay or straight.

I loved it.
Rosemary Atwell
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Eat your heart out, Tim Winton - Western Australia has a new local literary hero with a blistering debut of sexual politics and adolescent culture about growing up gay in small-town.

A riveting and unflinching book that really delivers on every page, ‘Invisible Boys’ is both heartbreaking and hilarious in its spot-on observations and emotional punch. Read it.
Intense, insightful and important.

Tough to read, yeah, but worth it for those glorious triumphant last couple of pages.
Jul 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This is a spectacular read. It’s extreeeeemely Australian (the language, the places, the characters) and, as an Australian, I found it as relatable as I found it brutally honest. This book deals with homophobia, internalised homophobia, depression, ideas of masculinity, cultural and religious views of homosexuality and masculinity, toxic masculinity and much much more (no spoilers).
But that’s not to say this isn’t fun, funny, moving and satisfying. You will laugh. You may well cry. I also spent
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​Holden Sheppard is an award-winning author born and bred in Geraldton, Western Australia.

His debut novel Invisible Boys (Fremantle Press, 2019) won multiple accolades, including the 2019 West Australian Premier's Prize for an Emerging Writer and the 2018 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award. In 2020, Invisible Boys was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards and was named a Notable

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