Punching the Air

Punching the Air

Book - 2020
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"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 ... 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"--
Publisher: New York : Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ♭2020.
ISBN: 9780062996480
Characteristics: 386 pages :,illustrations, map ;,22 cm.


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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.

Dec 29, 2020

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

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.

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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