Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

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Recommended by Michelle Ings (@michelle_ings)

Form and genre: Poetry

Length: 400 pages

Summary: 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. 

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal Shahid’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?

Age recommendation and challenging content: Would recommend for Year 9. Contains swearing and mild violence.

Notable reasons for recommending this book: Brilliant exploration of poetic form. Explores crucial cultural content: racism, educational in relation to BLM.
I think it’s one of those books every Year 9 student should read.