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Punching the Air

By: Ibi Zoboi

Yusef Salaam

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?

Authors’ note.

ISBN: 9780062996480

JLG Release: Jan 2021

Sensitive Areas: Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur , Language: Strong Language , Violence: General
Topics: Prisons , Juvenile incarceration , Wrongful convictions , Justice system , African Americans , Racism , Injustice , Artists  

$12.05  Member Price

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Hi-Lo Mature

Grades 9-12

12 titles/year


Book Details



First Release

January 2021



Dewey Classification


Trim Size

8 3/10" x 5 1/2"

Page Count


Accelerated Reader


Scholastic Reading Counts





Print Book


Hardcover edition


Balzer + Bray

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur , Language: Strong Language , Violence: General


Prisons, Juvenile incarceration, Wrongful convictions, Justice system, African Americans, Racism, Injustice, Artists, 

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Cover Art

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