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Punching the Air

Punching the Air

Book - 2020
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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. 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, he's seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. 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's bright future is upended: he 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.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2020
ISBN: 9780062996480
Branch Call Number: Fiction Zoboi TEEN
Characteristics: 400 pages ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

This powerful novel written in verse by co-authors Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (Salaam spent 6 years in jail for the wrongful conviction in the Central Park jogger case) is the story of Amal, who is put in prison for throwing a punch.

Recommended by Tenecia @ Joel D. Valdez Main Library


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j
jdesetti
Apr 29, 2021

Realistic fiction, Prejudice, Racism, Novel in Verse
YA novel about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated
Great Reviews. GoodReads 4.52

IndyPL_MollieB Mar 30, 2021

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam is a novel in verse. Poetry is a powerful artform. In a poem titled Movie Star:
"The people who know me/ really know me/ are not the ones/ the judge and jury want to hear from
It's as if they wanted to hear a story about/ some other kid/ It's as if they wanted to watch a movie about/ some other kid
The prosecutor, with his fancy words/ his hard evidence/ wrote the script, directed the scene/ cast just the right actor/ to play this kid from the hood/ who beat up a white kid really bad/ so bad/ that he can't wake up/ to tell the truth"
we learn about Amal's innocence and the injustice of the legal system.

#BLM #IndyPLTeens

IndyPL_TammieB Mar 12, 2021

Zoboi and 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. This is a powerful book full of emotion. Not only does it address institutional racism but also the transformation power of art.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jan 15, 2021

An amazing must-read verse novel about the tragic consequences on individual lives of the school to prison pipeline...and the transformative power of art.

b
becker
Dec 29, 2020

A very powerful impactful book. This will leave an impression on you.

k
klodpm
Oct 19, 2020

Powerful. Be prepared. This book is not written in a traditional fashion. The power lies in the physical placement of the authors’ words. It is a “must read” during these times for all of us in this country. We must hear this voice in order to change our system and change the lives of our youth.

Tigard_HollyCP Sep 27, 2020

Sixteen-year-old Amal is an artist, poet, student, friend, potential boyfriend. Does that change when he is wrongly convicted of leaving a white kid within an inch of his life? The judge and jury did not hear the whole story, partly because the “victim” is still in a coma. But because he’s Black, apparently he’s also guilty. This novel in verse co-written by award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, tells the all-too-common story of the way Black boys and men are treated by our police, judicial and correctional system. Phenomenal.

a
Audrey_1974
Sep 23, 2020

Reviewers have said that the authors have crafted a powerful indictment of institutional racism and mass incarceration through the imagined experience of Amal, a Black, Muslim 16-year-old facing imprisonment. The authors uses free verse and experiment with style, structure, and repetition.

LPL_MaryW Jul 24, 2020

Punching the Air is a very special book, joining an already powerful lineup of YA literature in verse. The story centers on Amal, a Black muslim teen who is convicted of a crime he did not commit. Although his name means “hope,” Amal is bitter—angry. His art teacher testifies to his disruptiveness in class, but should he be blamed for speaking out when all the artists they study are old white men? The representation of Amal’s frustration and the accessible and relatable format—I hope—will allow this book to speak to those who need it most. When he’s finally given the chance to express himself through art, Amal soars.

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IndyPL_TammieB Mar 12, 2021

IndyPL_TammieB thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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IndyPL_TammieB Mar 12, 2021

Prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five and award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi offer a powerful YA novel in verse about a Black Muslim boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. He is a target of bias at his diverse private fine arts school where he writes poetry. An altercation in a park on the other side of the “invisible line we weren’t supposed to cross” leads to assault and battery charges which they did not commit.

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IndyPL_TammieB Mar 12, 2021

“Locking you up isn’t enough
for them They will try
to crush your spirit until
you’re nothing but—Dust.”

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