One Book One Town 2021 Author Event Recap

Punching the Air book cover and authors Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam

We teamed up with the Fairfield Public Library, Pequot Library, and Fairfield University Bookstore to select the 2021 One Book One Town book, Punching the Air. From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five this powerful YA novel written in verse is about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. 

A committee of librarians read piles of books over the summer of 2020 to make the selection and announced it to the public in December. One Book One Town (OBOT) is an annual town-wide reading initiative culminates in the spring with a author event, which this year was hosted virtually on March 2nd 2021 with over 325 attendees. View the author's in conversation on the University's YouTube channel [OBOT Author Event Recording]

Image of Ibi Zoboi at the conclusion of the OBOT virtual event on March 2nd 2021.
Image of Dr. Yusef Salaam at the conclusion of the OBOT virtual event on March 2nd 2021.

As part of the OBOT promotion to the Fairfield University campus we offered a Winter Reading Challenge which included staff, faculty, and students who signed up to challenge themselves to read books in 14 categories. One category was to read the 2021 OBOT selection, Punching the Air. Here are some of their comments about the book:

  • "We read this for the university’s book club and it was fantastic. I’d recommend this to anyone; very powerful but easy to consume and extremely enjoyable." 
  • "I’m not always a fan of lyric verse, but I can’t imagine the power and heartbreak and sheer artistry of this story without it. An unflinching look at racism in the “justice” system that will make you angry (particularly given the author’s own experience as a wrongfully imprisoned teenager). There were some passages that literally stopped my breath...."
  • "Wow, This book was a raw and unfiltered look at the criminal justice system through the eyes of a young black man. A fast but important read."
  • "Reading this book, knowing Dr. Salaam story, added yet another layer of complexity. I also like the form—the flash chapters/poems felt right for the character and the subject matter."
  • "I love the style choice to use poetry to tell this story. It was an incredibly compelling read, and I found myself hanging on every word. The physical setup of the book was also really great because of the designs incorporated into the poetry."
  • "Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam is a great choice for the Town of Fairfield to read.  Another heartbreaking reminder of how this country is failing to support black youth in our schools and criminal justice system - and at the same time celebrating the creativity and spirit of the oppressed."

In addition we were thrilled to learn that the new student Book Club read the book too! Copies of the Punching the Air are available through our library to borrow.