No Single Sparrow Makes a Summer
By Narjis Alsaadi, Yennifer Coca Izquierdo, Hafsa Jama, Atalya Lawler, A’lea Marie Smith, Katherin E. Socias Báez, Autumn Wilson, Maria Zaminkhan, and Mehwish Zaminkhan
Louisville, Ky.: Louisville Story Program
309 pp.; $25.00
Review by Annie Boyer
Entire contents are copyright © 2018 Annie Boyer. All rights reserved.
In our current political climate, immigrants and other marginalized groups are often dehumanized and discounted. This book not only puts faces to the stories of very real people but also shows evidence of an inspiring aspect of America’s current culture. Never has it been easier for young voices to make themselves heard, and this book is a testament to that. This collection of stories follows nine young women as they share their diverse stories and perspectives. From Mehwish, a Pakistani immigrant who details her childhood and the stark contrast between opportunities for women in Pakistan and America, to A’lea, a young mother of two pursuing a college degree while supporting her family, the stories range far and wide, united by their common alma mater, Iroquois High School, and by the Louisville Story Program.
Short interviews with family members and other influential people in the authors’ lives punctuate each chapter, adding generational perspectives and other experiences. Listening to Hafsa, a Somalian refugee, share stories about her mother’s strength in leaving Kenya is only enriched by an interview with her mother herself. Beloved Iroquois Spanish teacher Yaslin Pupo Morera makes a cameo in Katherin’s chapter after the two bonded about their shared Cuban heritage and the adjustment to America. The stories are as diverse as the authors; from Indiana natives to Islamabad students, all come with transparency to share their unique lives up to this point.
The women in this book tell difficult stories; most inspire sympathy, and some are even hard to read. Separation from parents, loss of homes, terrifying experiences — these women have been through more hardship in their young lives than many will encounter in a lifetime. But that isn’t the final impression this book leaves. While, yes, these brave women document their hardships, they also include memories of grandmother’s special recipes, starring roles in school plays, and neighborhood Christmas parties. No Single Sparrow Makes a Summer is a tribute to the strength of women and the hope that each of the authors holds out to their readers. Humans are remarkably resilient, and this is a reminder to us all to listen before we judge, ask before we ignore, and learn from those generous enough to share their lives with us. This is an eye-opening introduction to some underrepresented and valuable parts of the Louisville community, and the Louisville Story Program, along with the contributors, have done us a service by publishing this book.
Annie Boyer is a Louisville native who graduated from Louisville Collegiate School before heading off to the tundra of Lewiston, Maine, where she is currently chasing her undergraduate degree in Classics and Philosophy at Bates College. She works as a peer writing tutor at her school and as an editor for close friends and various faculty who need affordable rates.