CONWAY — If you want to get a glimpse into the life of a teenager, pick up a copy of the fourth "Anthology of Young Adult Writers, Mount Washington Valley 2017-18,” which was released this week by Ed Fayle and writing students at Kennett High School.
Of the 267-page book, Joe Lentini, chair of the Conway School Board, said, “I am just impressed at the quality."
He and fellow board members were presented with copies of the anthology by Kennett High Principal Neal Moylan on Monday's meeting.
“You hear so much today about how kids can’t write, and yet I go through these, and it’s quality," Lentini said. "Every year I’m impressed.”
Moylan didn't candy-coat the content, saying the subject matter was "brutally honest."
He said: "What you have here is a window into the heart and soul of these kids. Drug addiction is big. Cutting is something that you see, the anxiety that they have.
"At the high school, we have 750 kids who come from all walks of life with all different social-emotional problems," Moylan told the board. "You will get a true understanding of what these youngsters are battling."
With the anthology, Fayle and his Eagles have raised more than $600 for Jen's Friends, which supports local cancer patients and their families.
The anthologies are for sale at White Birch Books in North Conway for $5. Every penny goes to Jen's Friends.
Since starting four years ago, the book gets thicker every year.
“You won’t find any fluff in here,” Fayle said during a recent interview at the school. “Our writers have provided an engaging, youthful collective lens for viewing our contemporary world.”
Emily Bean, a senior who will graduate today, has two pieces in this anthology, while Sadie Frechette, a junior, has three.
Both say they have gotten a lot out of Fayle’s writing and English composition classes.
Fayle has a folder titled “Anthology," which sits in the front of the classroom and where students can submit their work if they want.
“I was actually very hesitant about putting my work in there,” Frechette said. “I didn’t think that I was that good of a writer. But I realized that this my work, I’m proud of it, and I’m going to put it in there.”
As for Bean, who will attend the University of New Hampshire in the fall to study human development and family studies, she said she didn't like writing or reading as a kid.
“Then at the beginning of last year, something switched, and all of a sudden I really liked reading and writing. Already this year I’ve read seven or eight books, and that’s so unlike me.”
Frechette said: “I like to write because it helps me cope with some things, it’s just easier to write it out instead of keeping it inside. I journal sometimes about things about my day, things that are going well or wrong.”
Fayle has been amazed by the growth in the anthologies.
“I think part of why this one is bigger is because more people were willing and excited about being published and contributing to help support locals battling cancer,” he said.
Faye added: “It’s interesting from volume to volume to volume, I get more writings about the opioid crisis. You can trace the growth and impact on families and individuals of the crisis in New Hampshire in these anthologies.”
He added: “It is great writing. I’m so proud of what these folks do. I tell them that I get angry and I get feisty when people are like, ‘Students can’t write anymore.’ I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, ever see one of these?" He held up an anthology.
The students must go through a rigorous process to be included.
Students must write five drafts. They work to come up with an idea, then organize it, make sure their voice is right, and focus on sentence structure and word choice.
“Our motto is ‘Write your life,’ and it’s evident in there,” Fayle said. “People did that. Students can write crazy good if given the proper conditions for writing.”
In every anthology, the final piece is by Fayle. This year’s is titled, “18 Things You Might Want to Know About Trying to Teach 73 Teenagers Every Day.”
On the book's dedication page, Fayle has written: "I thank these wonderful writers. They’ve entrusted me with the privilege of delivering their stories to our neighbors. I love their work and spirit. Crafting authentic identity onto these pages, they have written with admirable skill. Without them, these anthologies can’t happen. Of course, it’s fine that several offered their writing without a name attached. Sometimes things are best shared within anonymous confidences."