Book Reviews, YA book reviews

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam – ARC Review

My Rating ~ Five Stars

RELEASE DATE:  1 September 2020

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Harper Collins Australia

Pages:  400


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 neighbourhood 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?



Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review!

Amal is an artist and poet but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a white boy is in a coma and now he’s facing prison time. As the system works against him over and over again, Amal faces a harsh reality where the colour of his skin speaks louder than the truth to some people’s ears.

Written in prose, and adorned with sketches that enhance the experience, Punching the Air is a powerful and unforgettable book, made even more so by the fact one of the authors is speaking from experience due to being wrongfully accused himself.

The most obvious feeling when reading was of utmost despair and devastation. Amal was in such an incredibly horrific situation, with little control over the treatment he received, but there was an underlying feeling of strength and determination too. For Amal to keep battling in his own corner, to keep writing his poetry, keep his art alive. Whilst Punching the Air focuses on racial profiling and racism, it also dies a brilliant job of showing the love and commitment of family, of friendship and those rare people who really make a difference.

Image from my Instagram account

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