Ripping Out My Heart…

Book: Punching the Air

Genre: Prose Poetry

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I can’t say enough good things about this book. It is very similar to the prose poetry books of Jason Reynolds, yet unique and amazing in its own way. If you are passionate about learning and growing during this time of civil unrest, I highly reccomend you pick this one up.

Here is a quick summary from Goodreads:

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-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply 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.

I have been trying to read and grow and learn during this time of unrest. I want to grow as a person and one of the best ways to do this is through books and this one is no exception. The range of emotions that I went through while reading this book is what I want to touch on.

Hurt. The first thing I felt while reading this was hurt. My heart hurt for the injustice of it all. My mind hurt as I tried to figure out a way for this innocent boy to escape his chains. My whole being hurt with the Amal as he endured things that no kid should ever have to endure.

Heartache. Similar to the hurt, my heart broke with each sentence and each turn of the page. Ibi Zoboi does such an incredible job of putting the reader into the shoes of Amal and the turmoil he is going through. As I read through his story and saw all of these ups and downs I couldn’t help but feel my heart break and rip and tear into a thousand pieces. The heartache was so real.

Anger. After finishing the book and going through all the hurt and heartache with Amal, my final response was anger. Anger at our justice system. Anger towards those that could have helped Amal during his life but didn’t. Anger that he couldn’t be free even through his art to express himself. I was so angry that I wanted to flip the world upside down. I wanted to turn people to face this injustice. I wanted to scream from the rooftops how unfair this was. And then I thought, if I am this angry, think of all the BIPOC people out there who have actually endured this and how incredibly angry they must be. AND THAT is the beauty of this book. The empathy it made me feel was unparalleled and the way it put me into Amal’s story was incredible.

Again, I cannot recommend this book enough and encourage everyone, especially teachers, to PICK IT UP NOW.


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