Invisible boys by Holden Sheppard

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Fremantle Press; 2019. ISBN: 9781925815566. 344p; p/b.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Charlie, Zeke and Hammer each struggle to come to grips with their homosexuality in a small, conservative town. Invisible boys is a highly character-driven story, so it's only natural that the characters in the novel are well crafted. Characters are strongly introduced with relatable or familiar elements but ascend beyond stereotypes as the plot progresses into their hidden depths. 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. The plot progresses in chunks as each character faces their own different struggles, but they're carefully woven together to keep the pace flowing. The novel is set in the modern day, in the real town of Geraldton, characterised strongly as small, highly religious, and as a result, intolerant. It's a familiar feeling for anyone who's lived in small towns before where everyone knows everyone and everything. The book follows the perspective of each major character, interspersed with grave letters to keep things compelling and tense. The pacing of which characters take focus when, is impeccable, and a continuous tone of dread permeates the entire novel, causing the reader to sympathise with the characters' awful plights. Teacher's notes are available.
Vincent Hermann