Wednesday, the 3rd of February, and time for Shelf Control once again (Can’t believe January has already zoomed past)! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, simply is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where and when you got it and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This week my pick is another young adult title, somewhat relatable to what I’m currently reading which is The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed. This is Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. This was another book I ended up getting a copy of after coming across it on Booktube, and is again a relatively recent purchase. This was of course ordered online and is a paperback copy.

This is a novel in verse written by Haitian-American author Ibi Zoboi and one of the exonerated five, Yusef Salaam and is set around the issue of wrongful incarceration, and how it can affect a teenager. Our main character is Amal Shahid, an artist and poet, but is seen as disruptive and unmotivated in his art school–biased despite its diversity. One fateful night an altercation in a gentrified neighbourhood turns into tragedy for Amal, who finds that all the talk about boys being boys is applicable only when the boys are white. But Amal is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and finds himself in prison at just sixteen. In despair and almost-sunk by his predicament he turns to his art. This is the story of how he is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth in a system that can well take away both.

This sounds like a powerful tale of discrimination, stereotyping, racism, and indeed how the system that is supposed to protect the innocent often ends up targeting them instead. I’ve read a lot of great reviews of this book, especially about the emotion it captures. I know this will be another difficult read in terms of its subject and themes, but again I think it is one that one needs to pick up. Other than perhaps The Sisters of the Winter Wood, a fantasy tale of two sisters based on Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market, in which one sister’s perspective was told in verse, I haven’t really read a novel in verse before (though there are a few that I do keep meaning to pick up) so this will be a new experience in that sense as well.

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Any others like this that you’d recommend? Or novels in verse generally? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Book Info as always from Goodreads as is the cover image (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (here), a true crime account.

4 thoughts on “Shelf Control #125: Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

  1. This sounds very good! I’ve read one book by Ibi Zoboi (Pride — a Pride & Prejudice retelling) and thought it was really interesting. I’m not usually drawn to novels in verse. I did like Sisters of the Winter Wood, and I also read an excellent YA novel in verse about a year or so ago — Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (highly recommended). I hope you enjoy this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks πŸ™‚ From the sound of it I think I will. I liked Sisters of the Winter Wood as well. Not read Ibi Zoboi before though I do want to read American Street at some point. May be I will add Pride to my list as well. I’m noting the Reynolds as well. The ones in verse I’ve been meaning to try are Elizabeth Acevedo, but am yet to get to them.


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