This post is a part of the Book Beginnings and Friday 56 blog memes. Visit more of my All About Books posts.

I discovered a book discussion at the Fairfield (Conn.) Library for a program called One Town One Book, featuring Ibi Zoboi's "Punching the Air." I signed up and was so glad I did. The book is written in verse, and therefore, unlike any book I've read.

As a result, I grabbed two other books that Zoboi has written. I read them in the order they appear here, which turns out to be the order of how good they were, in my opinion. I'm glad I didn't start with "Pride." I might not have gotten to the other two, and thus, her best work.

These are all teen books, which I pick up and work in between adult novels, and get through pretty quickly.

Book Beginnings:

BIRTH

Umi gave birth to me

at her home
She has a video
and every birthday
she makes me watch

When I was little
I would run away

Umi would laugh and say
Come back here, boy
You gotta remember
Where you came from!

Friday 56: 

They believed those lies about me

and made themselves
a whole other boy
in their minds
and replaced me with him

American Street

Book Beginnings: If only I could break the glass that separated me from Manman with my thoughts alone. On one side of the glass are the long lines of people with their photos and their papers that prove they belong here in America, that they are allowed to taste a bit of this free air.

Friday 56: I do as she says. She takes the Bible and pats the spot next to her on the bed. I sit beside here and feel her warm arm against mine. It almost feels like my mother's. Almost.

Pride

Book Beginnings: It's a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood, where it's a little bit broken and a little bit forgotten, the first thing they do is clean it up. But it's not just the junky stuff they'll get rid of. People can be thrown away, too, like last night's trash left out on the sidewalks or pushed to the edge of wherever all broken things go.

Friday 56: The whole basement smells like that sweet cologne. If the roof of my building is where Janae and I steal quiet moments, then the basement is where I dive deep onto my own thoughts and dreams with Madrina and her claims of communicado con los antepasados. To Madrina and all her clients, the basement is home to Ochin, the orisha of love and all things beautiful.