Punching the Air: Book summary and reviews of Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi, Dr. Yusef Salaam

Punching the Air

by Ibi Zoboi, Dr. Yusef Salaam

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi, Dr. Yusef Salaam X
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi, Dr. Yusef Salaam
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2020
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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. Perfect 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, 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Zoboi offers readers her brilliance and precision within this novel in verse that centers on the fictional account of 16-year-old Amal Shahid...Awardworthy. Soul-stirring. A must-read." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Zoboi and Salaam together craft a powerful indictment of institutional racism and mass incarceration...Using free verse, Zoboi and Salaam experiment with style, structure, and repetition to portray 'old soul' Amal's struggle to hold on to his humanity through the chaotic, often dehumanizing experience of juvenile incarceration." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This book will be Walter Dean Myers's Monster for a new generation of teens. An important, powerful, and beautiful novel that should be an essential purchase for any library that serves teens." - Student Library Journal (starred review)

"Stories, at their best, will break something old in you or build something new. Remarkably, Punching the Air does both. Zoboi and Salaam have created nothing short of a masterwork of humanity, with lyrical arms big enough to cradle the oppressed, and metaphoric teeth sharp enough to chomp on the bitter bones of racism. This is more than a story. This is a necessary exploration of anger, and a radical reflection of love, which ultimately makes for an honest depiction of what it means to be young and Black in America." - Jason Reynolds, award-winning, bestselling author of Long Way Down

"Punching the Air is the profound sound of humanity in verse. About a boy who uses his creative mind to overcome the creativity of racism. About a boy who uses the freedom of art to overcome his incarceration. About you. About me. Utterly indispensable." - Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author

"In this beautifully rendered book, we are reminded again of how brilliant and precarious our Black Lives are and how art can ultimately heal us." - Jacqueline Woodson, award-winning, bestselling author of Brown Girl Dreaming

The information about Punching the Air shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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More Information

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.

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.

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