Punching the Air by by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam Excerpt, In Partnership with Miami Book Fair


[Note from Frolic: This excerpt from Punching the Air is a partnership between Miami Book Fair and Frolic. Authors Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam are two of of more than 300 authors participating in the 2020 Miami Book Fair. They are all gathering together from all over the world in conversation, all virtual, all safe, all unique, all free between Nov. 15-22. Visit miamibookfaironline.com and register for free and enjoy these conversations for free: 

Twisted Tales: Liz Brasewell/Straight on Till Morning, Jen Calonita/Conceal, Don’t Feel, Elizabeth Lim/So This is Love 

Own Your Magic: TJ Klune/The House in the Cerulean Sea & The Extraordinaries, Bethany C. Morrow/A Song Below Water, Mark Oshiro/Each of Us a Desert, Lauren Shippen/A Neon Darkness; this 

DC Comics panel: featuring Kami Garcia/Teen Titans: Beast Boy-Teen Titans Raven, Sarah Kuhn/Shadow of the Batgirl, Alex Sanchez/You Brought Me the Ocean, Maggie Stiefvater/Swamp Thing: Twin Branches, Laurie Halse Anderson/Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed, Danielle Paige/Mera: Tidebreaker; and so much more.

For more information please visit  www.miamibookfair.com, follow Miami Book Fair @miamibookfair, #MiamiBookFair2020 #MBF2020 #MiamiBookFairOnline.]

About Punching the Air:

Instant New York Times bestseller! From award-winning 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.

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  • Interior illustrations by Omar T. Pasha
  • Excerpted from PUNCHING THE AIR by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Copyright © 2020 Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Children’s Books.
About the Authors:

Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults 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, and Punching the Air with co-author and Exonerated Five member, Yusef Salaam. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. Raised in New York City, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three children.

In 1989, at just fifteen years young, Dr. Yusef Salaam was tried and convicted in the “Central Park Jogger” case along with four other Black and Latinx young men. The Exonerated Five spent between seven to 13 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, until their sentences were overturned in 2002. Since then, they have received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of New York for its injustice and have been profiled in award-winning films, including The Central Park Five documentary from Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon and most recently the Emmy award-winning Netflix limited series When They See Us, written and directed by Ava DuVernay.

Over the past two decades, Yusef has become a family man, father, poet, activist and inspirational speaker. He continues to utilize his platform to share his story with others and educate the public about the impact of mass incarceration and police brutality rooted in our justice system. He regularly advocates for criminal justice reform, prison reform and the abolition of juvenile solitary confinement and capital punishment, specifically restoring “humanity” of those incarcerated and those trodden down by the spike wheels of justice.

Yusef is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama (2016) and more recently has shared his story and stance on current issues on CNN, MSNBC, REVOLT TV, NPR Atlanta, FOX and more.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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