Author: Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Narrator: Ethan Herisse

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam is a fantastic book about race. This is one of those books I wish everyone would read. I rate this along with The Hate You Give.

A black teenager, Amal, gets in a fight with a white teenager. The other boy ends up in a coma. Amal is on trial for this. The story follows Amal through the trial and juvie. The story goes back and forth between present day and flashbacks. Some of the flashbacks go all the way back to elementary school. The reader is fully immersed in Amal’s head and always knows what he is thinking.

I absolutely loved Punching the Air. I felt so much during this book. I felt all the injustice for Amal. The writing style made me become instantly attached to Amal. Amal goes through all the injustices he’s faced in juvie and leading up to then as well as childhood made me so sad.

Punching the Air is very fitting for 2020 and all the race relations brought to people’s attention.

I listened to the audiobook and Ethan Herrise’s narration added to an excellent story. Herisse’s calm voice talking about difficult situations really demonstrates to the reader how unjustified the actions to Amal were.

I highly recommend Punching the Air for everyone.

about the author

Ibi Zoboi was born in Haiti and immigrated to New York with her mother when she was four-years-old. Everything about her new home was both strange and magical. This is why she loves reading and writing science-fiction, fantasy, and mythology. Ibi wears lots of bright colors and is a huge fan of mangos, avocados, dry humor, long-winded storytellers, and modest skirts. She also smiles, laughs, and cries often—sometimes all at once. She lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her three children, her husband, the art teacher, their cat, Frisky, and three pet turtles named Lucky, Jade, and Leo.

Author Links:



Dr. Yusef Salaam Twitter:





16 thoughts on “Book Review: Punching the Air

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