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Book Club Pick

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Book Club Pick: November 2020

Title: Punching the Air

Author: Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

First Published: 2020

Pages: 386

Publisher Description:

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in his diverse art school, because of a biased system he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated. 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 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?

Review:

Amal Shahid is a Black Muslim teenager who has been accused of assaulting a white boy following a fight between a group of black teenagers and white teenagers.

The novel is written in first person verse. It is as if we are reading Amal’s words from his notebook. Amal is a talented artist and poet and was attending a prestigious fine arts school. This was his opportunity to not be another statistic – sadly at sixteen-years-old he found himself incarcerated at a juvenile detention centre.

Idi Zoboi collaborated with prison reform activist Dr. Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated 5 (dubbed the “Central Park 5” by media), a group of young men wrongly convicted of raping and beating a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. The case that was highlighted in Ava Duvernay’s 2019 Netflix series When They See Us.

Punching the Air is a profound, challenging look at the flawed criminal justice system that many young Black Americans sadly face.

Click here to read my review of American Street (2017) by Ibi Zobi

Links:

Ibi Zoboi Official Website

Ibi Zoboi on Facebook

Ibi Zoboi on Twitter

Ibi Zoboi on Instagram

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Categories
Book Club Pick

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Book Club Pick: January 2018

AmericanStreetCover

Book Details:

Title: American Street

Author: Ibi Zoboi

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Balzar + Bray, imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

First Published: 2017

Pages: 324

Publisher’s Description:

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie – a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream.

In her stunning debut, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experiences as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and Vodou culture. Unflinching yet filled with joy, American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story.

Review:

The novel, which is narrated by sixteen-year-old Fabiola Toussaint opens with her arriving in New York with her mother. They are immigrating to the United States Fabiola’s birthplace from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Fabiola’s mother is detained by immigration at the airport and Fabiola has to travel onto Detroit by herself. There she meets her Aunt Jo and her three cousins Chantal (Chant), Primadonna (Donna) and Princess (Pri).

Later Fabiola learns that they plan to deport her mother back to Haiti. She meets Detective Shawna Stevens from the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department who offers to help release her mother into the States if she helps with a police investigation.

American Street follows Fabiola’s journey in Detroit as she adjusts to life in America with a new school, new friends, and a new romance.

Although the novel is set in present day it is based on Zoboi’s own experiences as a Haitian immigrant in Bushwich, Brooklyn in the 1980s.

Links:

Ibi Zoboi Official Website

Ibi Zoboi on Facebook

Ibi Zoboi on Twitter

Ibi Zoboi on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.