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.
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/Translator
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.
Dr. Yusef Salaam was just fifteen years old when he was wrongly convicted with four other boys in the “Central Park jogger” case. In 2002, after years behind bars, their sentences were overturned. Their story has been documented in the award-winning film The Central Park Five. Yusef received a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama.
Punching the Air could have been a selection for its aesthetics alone – it is a beautiful work that combines art and poetry – but its appearance belies its profound and demanding content. Punching the Air is a creative novel that allows the readers to immerse themselves in the experience of an underrepresented youth fighting for his human dignity to be acknowledged and accepted. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, United States