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Stories to tell

Local teacher turns novelist

Elizabeth Wheeler of Newark reads from her first novel, "Asher's Fault," in a presentation at the Charles B. Phillips Public Library last week.
Elizabeth Wheeler of Newark reads from her first novel, "Asher's Fault," in a presentation at the Charles B. Phillips Public Library last week.

NEWARK – Local author Elizabeth Wheeler was the guest of honor at the Charles B. Phillips Library in Newark on Jan. 21. Wheeler read a segment from her first novel, “Asher’s Fault,” then discussed the book with her audience.

The book, which received a positive Kirkus review, is a young adult novel that tells the story of 14-year-old Asher Price who, through the course of the novel, deals with his parents’ divorce, his brother’s death, and his budding sexuality.

“(Asher is) a boy who sees the world in black and white, like the pictures he takes on his old film Minolta camera,” Wheeler said. “The novel doesn’t tell you what to do; no conclusions are drawn. There are no easy answers or nicely, neatly tied-up endings. Kind of like life.”

Wheeler teaches English and creative writing and directs the drama program at Newark High School. Library director Lynette Heiden said she was delighted to host a member of the community as she presented her first novel.

“It is such a nice opportunity for her pupils and the community to see her and the book that she wrote,” Heiden said. “The fact that she wrote a book and is still teaching is something to admire and look up to.”

Nancy Larson, a resident of Newark and a Friend of the Library, said that she knew hardly anything about the book before she attended the event.

“I am interested in the book, and I know Mrs. Wheeler from the high school,” she said. “Attending the event tonight is a great way to support the library and our small-town community.”

Although Asher is a fictional character, and not based on any one real-life person, Wheeler said she was inspired both by her classroom and by people she knows and cares about.

“After you teach for more than 15 years, you come across many stories,” she said. “This story, I hope, touches on those complexities, the poignant, resilient stories from the classroom. …This is the first story I felt the public should hear and know. I felt like it needed to come out, for Asher’s story to be told.”

Wheeler has already finished writing a sequel, which she has titled “Asher’s Shot,” and plans to write a third novel.

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