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Young Adult Literature Circles: Punching The Air

Book Cover

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Book Summary

Goodreads 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.

Author Bio

Ibi Zoboi was born in Haiti and immigrated to New York with her mother when she was four-years-old. Everything about her new home was both strange and magical. This is why she loves reading and writing science-fiction, fantasy, and mythology. Zoboi grew up living a cultural divide. Her fifth-grade teachers looked at her bright Haitian clothes and wrongly assumed she couldn’t speak English. They placed her in an English as a Second Language course, where she felt “invisible.”

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and raised in New York City, Zoboi now lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their three children. 

Dr. Yusef Salaam, prison form acitvist and social justice proponent, was a member of the Exonerated Five. Salaam was one of the teens falsely accused and convicted of raping the “Central Park Jogger.” In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and charged with brutally attacking and raping a white female jogger in Central Park. He served a prison sentence for over five years before it was overturned.

Other books by Ibi Zoboi:

  • American Street
  • Pride
  • My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Punching the Air
  • Black Enough (editor)
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