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Punching the Air
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Punching the Air
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New York Times and USA Today bestseller * 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...
New York Times and USA Today bestseller * 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...
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  • New York Times and USA Today bestseller * 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. One of the most acclaimed YA novels of the year, this New York Times and USA Today bestseller is 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.

About the Author-

  • 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.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 3, 2020
    Zoboi (Pride) and Salaam (one of the Exonerated Five) together craft a powerful indictment of institutional racism and mass incarceration through the imagined experience of Amal, a Black, Muslim 16-year-old facing imprisonment. Amal, a gifted artist and poet attending a prestigious fine arts high school, has his life turned upside down when a nighttime park confrontation leaves a white kid from the other side “of that invisible line/ we weren’t supposed to cross” in a coma, and Amal and his four friends on the hook for assault and battery they did not commit. 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. From the trial onward, the authors liken the pervasive imprisonment of Black bodies to the history of chattel slavery in America (“and this door leads to a slave ship/ and maybe jail”), and describe how educational racism feeds Black students into the school-to-prison pipeline (“I failed the class/ she failed me”). Zoboi and Salaam deliver an unfiltered perspective of the anti-Blackness upholding the U.S. criminal justice system through the eyes of a wrongly convicted Black boy (“shaping me into/ the monster/ they wanted me to be”). Ages 14–up. Agent (for Zoboi and Salaam): Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Ethan Herisse's voice is soft, slow, and sombre as he narrates the poignant free-verse poems of the fictional character Amal Shahid. Herisse's tone is so tender that one can imagine the sensitive shapes and perfect rhythms drawn and written by this 16-year-old artist-poet before he was incarcerated. Amal and his friends have been arrested for assault after a run-in with racist white boys. Herisse expresses Amal's passion for creativity and how it helps him endure beatings and solitary confinement. The story was co-created by award-winning YA author Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, a prison reform activist. Both poets shine in every word. Together, the verses build and deepen as Herisse emphasizes the earnestness of Amal's efforts to hold onto hope. A gripping, powerful listen for teens and adults from the opening to the authors' note at the end. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine

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    Balzer + Bray
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