Punching the Air

Punching the Air

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.

Title:Punching the Air
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780062996480
Format Type:

    Punching the Air Reviews

  • Emily May

    Locking you up isn’t enoughfor them        They will tryto crush your spirit untilyou’re nothing but—Dustwe both say togetherAnd what does dust do, Amal?What did Maya Angelou say about d...

  • C.G. Drews

    Sometimes you just read a novel that is so beautiful and aching and phenomenal, that you must just sit in silence and absorb it. This is that kind of novel. It's told in verse, about a Black teen arti...

  • Hamad

    This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 “Don’t ever stop dreaming big But for now, put that dream on paper It’s easier to carry around” Punching the Air is a novel w...

  • Sara

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review. I don't think I can express how important, poignant and devastating this novel was to read. Written in collaboration with Yusef Salaam, one of the exoner...

  • Jessica Kafka | JustReadingJess

    Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam is a fantastic book about race. This is one of those books I wish everyone would read. I rate this along with The Hate You Give. I absolutely loved Punch...

  • Jenna

    "We werea moba gangghettoa pack of wolvesanimalsthugshoodlumsmenThey were kidshaving funhomelovedsupportedprotectedfull of potentialboys"This book is amazing! Wow! It doesn't just "punch the air", it...

  • Jazmen

    On page 77, there's a line that says, "Bail money is invisible handcuffs," and if that's true, Black anger is mine. It's a quiet/loud part of me I lug around weighed down by its seemingly present less...

  • Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    I appreciate the theme that this book-in-verse narrated.A young black boy struggling in jail for being wrongly convicted of a crime. This book addresses rascism, coming of age, police brutality, discr...

  • Kai

    I'm sure you all knowthe rule of law -Innocent until proven guiltyBut with us, it'sguilty until proven innocentPunching the Air is a YA novel written in verse about a Black boy convicted for a crime h...

  • Umairah | Sereadipity

    4.5 stars Punching the Air was a powerful novel in verse about a Black Muslim boy who was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Words can hardly covey the profundity of this book- my advice to anyo...