For What It's Worth

Thursday, January 14, 2021

#CurrentlyReading - Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

As I’ve mentioned, my reading is slooooooow right now and I don’t always get to a review anymore.

I thought I might talk about what I’m currently reading so the book at least gets some attention and give you my thoughts so far.

#CurrentlyReading

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Narrated by Ethan Herrise


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? ~
Goodreads

My thoughts so far (@ 52%): I’m listening to this on audio and the narrator – Ethan Herrise – has such a soft soothing voice but it also contains such an intense urgency.

He tells Amal's story calmly but underneath you can feel the terror, anger, despair and the tiniest bit of hope as he tries to survive his sentence in juvenile prison, after being falsely accused of a violent crime.

This book is told in verse and, to be honest, I didn’t even realize that because it doesn’t have that rhythmic quality like, Elizabeth Acevedo, for example. I do love the narrator's voice but I think I might finish this one using my hardcopy that I also have. Once I cracked it open, the words landed like a punch to the heart because I can still hear Amal’s voice thanks to the audio, but can now also see the verse and the healing power of poetry and art that the book is trying to convey.

*Note: Co-author Yusef Salaam was part of the wrongfully convicted Central Park 5 (the Central Park jogger case back in the 90's). I remember that case well and Salaam brings many of his experiences to this story. 

Have you read Punching the Air yet?

What are you currently reading?

17 comments:

  1. I have not read this one, but it's on my list. It sounds really well done, but obviously very emotional!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is. I want to watch the Netflix documentary about the CP5. Like I said, I remember it well and while this isn't about that case - it does mirror the problems with convicting innocent people, the prison complex and so many other issues.

      Delete
  2. I've seen this book around everywhere but (shamefully) hadn't paid much attention. It sounds like one that would break my heart! And audio definitely sounds like the way to take it in.
    The Central Park 5 story was horrendous. I remember reading about it when they released the docu-drama/mini series on Netflix and I was in disbelief. Didn't realise that one of the 5 was the co-author!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was in my 20's during the case so I remember it really well (& you know who at the center of it) but I still want to watch the documentaries.

      This story isn't about a high profile case but still touches on race, incarceration, the prison pipeline and the power of art to help you survive it. I'm sure he brings his experiences to all of that which makes it even more powerful.

      And I love Zoboi's books.

      Delete
  3. Nope, not read and not familiar. I'm reading Wild Rain by Ms. Beverly Jenkins. It's an historical set in Wyoming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OOh fun! I haven't read romance in ages O_O

      Delete
  4. I did not do well with verse last time, so I am scared, but I would like to try reading instead .)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually can't read verse but I've had better luck with audio.

      I had to double check that this was told in verse because it really doesn't sound like it. But when you read the physical copy it's laid out and more powerful.

      Delete
  5. I have not read this (yet), but I have heard all good things. Glad you are enjoying it, and always a plus when the narrator has a great voice and style.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a n interesting narrator choice because he's so calm but with this undercurrent of so many emotions.

      Delete
  6. I haven't read this and don't really care for books told in verse. I bet it would be easier to read as an audiobook though! I hope you enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never been able to read verse until audiobooks but this really does not feel like a verse told book except for a few powerful lines. But still very good!

      Delete
  7. Cool cover. Sounds like a good narrator, but that's interesting how different it is to listen vs. read with it being in verse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is! And really fitting with the book as it talks about the healing power of art and white space.

      it's so weird about the audio because I can't usually *read* verse but the audio doesn't feel like verse to me.

      Delete
  8. Wow this sounds like a gripping read!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is definitely high up on my TBR for this year! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

    ReplyDelete