Review #5 : Invisible Boys by Holden Shepherd.
Published by Freemantle Press 2019
If you don’t want to know what it’s like to grow up gay, then don’t read this book. But if you would like your eyes opened and your heart touched then Invisible Boys is the novel you need. Writing with visceral prose and raw honesty Holden Shepherd takes us into the world of his invisible boys, forcing us to understand and to care about their lives.
The novel begins when Charlie, teen rocker and defiant bad boy, is found in the closet of a married man (nice pun there, Holden). A meeting with the despairing Matt, confrontations with the football-bully, Hammer and the good Italian boy, Zeke, and the story is off and running, taking us into a world of internet porn, shower-room bullying, Italian weddings and school dances. The romance, sex, awkward conversations and outright confrontations are all compelling reading as Shepherd gives us the ingredients of any teen’s life, complicated and intensified by the difficulty of being gay. But my favourite scene is the four boys on the rooftop, talking and drinking, kissing and egging the people below, invisible to the rest of the town. It’s sweet, funny and a bit aggressive, a perfect summary of the friendship and romance that runs through the book.
Charlie and Matt, Zeke and Hammer, the book gives us four very different people with different stories and whether you like them or hate then there is no doubt you are seeing a fully realised character and hearing a story that rings with truth. Personally, I admired Charlie’s courage and was constantly touched by his sweetness, I loved watching Zeke grow from a nervous geek to a man with integrity and strength and would have gone way to avoid Hammer. Not because he was gay, or because he refused to acknowledge it, but because he was a bit of a dick. And that’s one of the great pleasures of this book, unlike so many modern stories, there’s no narrowing of character to a single issue. Hammer, Zeke, Charlie and Matt have virtues and flaws and though being gay is a vital part of who they are, it’s not all they are.
Invisible Boys is a powerful, honest and brilliantly written novel which deserves all the praise and attention it has received. If you’re collecting a bookshelf of modern YA classics, then Invisible Boys is a must-have addition
For my previous review 'Making Friends with Alice Dyson' click here
© Catch Tilly, 2019