2021: Punching the Air

One Book One Town 2021 was different in many ways.  Because of the pandemic, everything was held virtually, from committee member meetings to the title reveal to the author event. It was a challenging time, but choosing the title was easy.

Punching the Air by award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Dr. Yusef Salaam is the story of a tragic event leading to an unjust imprisonment and its impact on the family and community. It is also a story of how the power of art and poetry can create strength and community. It was one of the most critically acclaimed young adult novels of the year, and was named as a “best book” by TimePublishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus and New York Public Library.

Ibi Zoboi is the New York Times Bestselling author of American Street, a National Book Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. Her writing has been published widely.

Dr. Yusef Salaam was just fifteen years old when his life was upended after being wrongly convicted with four other boys in the “Central Park Jogger” case.  In 2002, after the young men spent years of their lives behind bars, their sentences were overturned.  They are now known as The Exonerated Five.  Their story has been documented in the award-winning film The Central Park Five and in the highly acclaimed series When They See Us.  Dr. Salaam is now a poet, prison reform activist, and inspirational speaker.  He received a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 among other honors.