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Local Girl Writes, Publishes Book Against Odds

Updated: Monday, February 24 2014, 05:12 PM CST

Her days are probably a lot like yours when you were just 14. Glenwood High School freshman Stella Nguepnang has her favorite class with friends; then it's time for lunch with her twin sister Sonia and more friends. Circled around the table they talk about the good eats, cute boys, oh, and books.

"When I wrote it, it was just kind of like the idea popped into my mind. I've always like had ideas about books to write," Stella Nguepnang said.

She's talking about Secret Powers for the Young. That's the book about four girls separated and re-united. She started writing it at 11, finished at age 12, and spent the next year trying to get it published.

"I will be glad if this is an opportunity to inspire other young kids her age because I always tell my children that anything is possible as long as you're willing to focus and to learn very hard," Stella's mother Jeannine Nguepnang said.

In the Nguepnang family there is no shortage of work ethic. Parents Isaac and Jeannine are just as proud as you would imagine, more so even, considering the native French speakers moved their daughters to the states from Cameroon in west central Africa for a better future.

"Since we were young, our parents have always told us that if we wanted something, we had to work hard for it," Stella's oldest sister Elvire Nguepnang said.

Elvire is a college junior and standout student with dreams of going to medical school. Second oldest Marlene is a senior at Glenwood High and the successful graphic artist behind online clothing store Lucky Fox.

"I feel like our challenge is just fitting in, kind of. It's like being different but I feel like it kind of has an advantage," Marlene explains.

Books are their comfort zone when they're apart, but together they are that for each other. As transplants these smart and sometime silly young women have really learned to cling to each other and to their dreams.          

"I've always thought about like Frederick Douglass. He was born a slave and taught himself to read and write so that's really cool and it kind of shows me that I have all these blessings and so how I can learn how to do things better," Stella said.

The Nguepnang girls actually struggled with English when they moved to the states. They got help mastering the language from summer camps at the Springfield Urban League. Her parents
credit Stella's teachers here in Illinois and in Maryland for encouraging her
to write the book. Secret Powers for the Young is available online here

Local Girl Writes, Publishes Book Against Odds

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