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"Punching the Air" Book Club: Session 3

Wednesday, October 21, 1pm CDT
Zoom - Register here!

Left Bank Books' Cliff Helm and Brain Lair Books' Kathy Burnette will moderate focused hour-long talks on this powerful new novel-in-verse with YA author Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five.

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 neighborhood 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?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-wining author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply
Left Bank Books Children's Specialist Cliff Helm profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth in a system designed to strip him of both.

Topics covered during the book club will include:

My Punches Will Be My Paintbrushes: The Importance of Art for Teens
The Criminalization of Blackness
The Prison-Industrial Complex
The Emotional Work of Social Justice

These sessions will be hosted via Zoom and will be password protected with registrants receiving a direct e-mail with the password the day before the event.

Free registration is through Eventbrite with optional donations going to Prison Book Program.  Register here!

HarperCollins has provided an Educators' Guide for Punching the Air with discussion questions, activities, and further resources.  View and download the Educators' Guide here!

Copies of Punching the Air are available through Left Bank Books.  Individual copies can be purchased below or by calling 314-367-6731. 

Bulk purchases for schools and other organizations is available:

  • 25-99 copies:  20% discount
  • 100+ copies:  30% discount
  • Tax-exempt upon receipt of tax letter
  • Organizational purchase orders or credit cards accepted
  • Free pick-up or delivery in the St. Louis metro area
  • Contact Sarah at to order
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 1:00pm
Zoom - Registration Required
Punching the Air Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062996480
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - September 1st, 2020