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2023 - Shortlisted
Told from three different perspectives, The Brink is an evocative character exploration wrapped around the plot and pacing of an intoxicating thriller. The voices of the young narrators are raw and real: Kaiya is looking to shed her goody two shoes image, shy and awkward Leonardo is desperately trying to find himself beyond his crippling anxiety, and blokey Mason is wrestling with his understanding of masculinity and the deep crush he has for his best friend, Jared. The emotional tension of this novel is palpable, and the vivid setting of the isolated beach town and its hair-raising locals propels the gripping narrative forward.
The complex and nuanced characters are distinct and expertly drawn. Sheppard doesn’t hold back as his emotionally charged young protagonists dissect the very frameworks of identity, sexuality and what it means to be a decent human.