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Punching the Air

By Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

New York Times and USA Today bestseller * Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor * Walter Award Winner * Goodreads Finalist for Best Teen Book of the Year * Time Magazine Best Book of the Year * Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year * Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year * School Library Journal Best Book of the Year * Kirkus Best Book of the Year * New York Public Library Best Book of the Year

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. A must-read for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, because of a biased system he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated. Then, one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. 

The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth in a system designed to strip him of both.

93 Reviews

“Powerful and eye opening. The novel in verse style of writing gives it even more of a punch.”
“** 2.5 STARS **”
“Such a powerful story about a black boy convicted of a crime he didn't commit and how he navigates life in the juvenile detention center. Amal is a poet and an artist, and I loved the way that is incorporated in the story. It makes so many incredible points about racism and how easily white people can destroy black boys' lives. It's written in verse, so it is a very quick read, but more importantly, it's probably one of the best verse novels I've read in terms of the poetry itself. I'll just leave this here: “We were a mob a gang ghetto a pack of wolves animals thugs hoodlums men They were kids having fun home loved supported protected full of potential boys””
“Maybe closer to 3.5 stars. Novels in verse really don’t always connect with me. Poetry in general has always been really hard for me to like. With that being said, this was really well done. There were a few parts that made me stop for a second and process. But it’s more slice-of-life and internal, with a lot of the story left unresolved. I guess the point there is that it really doesn’t matter what happens after a kid gets wrongfully convicted. It doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been wrongfully convicted. But open endings always bring me strife and this is no exception. It tackles some heavy current issues - the school-to-prison pipeline, the failure that is the American police and justice system, horrible correctional officers, just racism in general... it’s just really timely and important. I feel like the voice is realistic to that of a Black, Muslim teen boy, and I think teens of any race will benefit from this, especially boys.”
“4.25⭐ This book tells such an important story and it is a book that I think everyone should read to not only educate themselves but also to inspire themselves to do something about the the racial inequality in our world today. As much as I loved this book, this story mainly followed the characters and didn't have much plot and it also didn't have a clear beginning middle or end everything just flowed into one. I would still recommend everyone to read this”

About Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. She is also the author of Pride and My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, a New York Times bestseller. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough. Born in Haiti and raised in New York City, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at www.ibizoboi.net.

Yusef Salaam

Dr. Yusef Salaam was just fifteen years old when his life was upended after being wrongly convicted with four other boys in the “Central Park jogger” case. In 2002, after the young men spent years of their lives behind bars, their sentences were overturned. Now known as the Exonerated Five, their story has been documented in the award-winning film The Central Park Five by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon and in Ava DuVernay’s highly acclaimed series When They See Us. Yusef is now a poet, activist, and inspirational speaker. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama, among other honors. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Sanovia, and their children. You can find him online at www.yusefspeaks.com.

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