Chicago author plans first stop of year tour at Plainfield Library

PLAINFIELD, IL – For many, communicating with people in everyday life is not a two-way street. But for immigrant women studying English for the first time at the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora, it’s a journey that is not taken for granted.

Blanca started out as a housekeeper, working through the ranks of a company for years before a company decision changed her life. Juanita managed to escape the stalkers by starting a new life in the United States. Maribel, a domestic violence survivor, started her own business after cleaning the toilet for a living. Each of these stories, as well as others, are told in Chicago author Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk’s first book, “We Are Eagles.”

The author, a freelance journalist, will make her first book tour of the year at the Plainfield Public Library, 15025 S. Illinois St., at 7 pm on January 13. At the free event, Kukec Tomczyk will discuss her book and the writing process, read the first chapter, and share photos of the women whose stories she tells.

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First published in paperback form in April 2020, the non-fiction narrative work spans the first 25 years of the Aurora Literacy Center by sharing the stories of some of the first five women – including the very first , Juanita – to participate in the programs.

At the Dominican Literacy Center, an organization located at 260 Vermont Avenue in Aurora, women learn to read, write and speak English. Staff also help prepare immigrants to take their naturalization test and become U.S. citizens. Since its founding in 1993, more than 2,500 women have participated in its programs.

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“They saw so many successes there that a number of women, once they learned English and were able to integrate into society here, suddenly blossomed,” she said. declared.

Written as if happening nowadays, Kukec Tomczyk’s book reveals why women decided to go to the center to learn English and what made them keep going until they were able ” to gain a basic understanding of this crazy language we deal with on a daily basis. based.”

Distinguishing “We Are Eagles” from other books, Kukec Tomczyk has structured it to give readers several ways to immerse themselves in his words: read it cover to cover like any other book or choose it. story of a woman and read it section by section.

“I tried to take a new approach to this book and the way it was formed,” the author said, adding that it was an idea her husband Jim gave her.

Journalist, Kukec Tomczyk wrote for newspapers and magazines until she went freelance in 2017, which gave her time to start reporting for her book. To interview and get to know the women, Kukec Tomczyk said it was a rewarding process.

“It’s hard to get into it in the cold. None of these women knew me,” she said. “None of them knew what I would do with their stories, so I had to talk to them a few times and try to gain their respect and trust.”

She continued, “Some of them were opening up to very moving and heartbreaking situations that they were going through. It was almost as if they were reliving those situations, even though they were decades old then.”

Since its release, the book has won over an international audience. Although it has not yet been translated into other languages, Kukec Tomczyk said it has been marketed to an English-speaking audience in countries such as Japan, Australia, India, l ‘Italy and Canada.

“It’s very heartwarming to see international sales as well, especially at the very beginning,” she said.

“We Are Eagles” is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Town House Books & Cafe in St. Charles, among other stores.

Lola R. McClure