Stories of Iroquois High School students featured in new book

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- From growing up in communist Cuba to teen pregnancies in west Louisville, nine young authors from Iroquois High School are telling their stories in a new book.

"No Single Sparrow Makes a Summer" is the latest venture of the Louisville Story Program, a Louisville non-profit that gives a voice to the voiceless.

"Give folks the tools and platforms they need to tell their own stories in their own words," said Joe Manning with the Louisville Story Program.

This is their fifth book, which provides a glimpse into the hallways of the most diverse high school in the state.

"Six are second-language speakers and three are from the United States of America. Born here and grew up in west Louisville and south Louisville," said Manning, describing the backgrounds of the students.

From the ravages of war to teenage pregnancy, their writing fills the pages of the book. For the last 13 months, the young women have written and re-written draft after draft of their book, which features stories of everything from the the ravages of war to teenage pregnancy.

"We stayed every day after school, we worked 10 hours a week, we worked during the weekends, we worked during the summer. It was really difficult," said author Yennifer Coca.

For young women who have been through so much, it's a chance to reflect on the challenges and triumphs of life.

"In Cuba, we didn't have the right to express our voices, to document the stories of other people. So being able to be a part of the Louisville Story Program has allowed me to tell the story of other people, to tell the story of my community, so it is represented," said Coca who was born in Cuba and came to Louisville at 14 years old.

Chapter one in the book is written by senior Katherin Socias.

She tells the story of her dad coming to the United States on a homemade boat, then reuniting with him five years after he left Cuba. Socias was 12 years old and didn't speak the language when she landed in a new country.

"I was scared. I got out of the plane. I was like 'I'm on the plane, I'm going to another country and I miss my family a lot'," said Socias.

It's in her pages where the title originated, a saying passed down by the strong women in her family. "They will tell you no single sparrow makes a summer. So we have to stick together so we all make it to the top," she said.

Along with the other stories in the book, the authors hope to tell the stories of their communities that they feel are often misunderstood.

"People don't really see us. They see Iroquois as a bad school, bad reputation, nothing good comes out of it. But that's not true," said Socias.

"We as immigrants need to be represented in this nation. Sometimes it seems like we don't. We are misunderstood, misrepresented. This book is an amazing way to show the community that we matter and we are part of this community as well," said Coca.

A book launch party will be held October 11 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Columbia Auditorium on the Spalding University campus. Everyone is invited to attend. The book is available at Carmichael's Bookstores and online.

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