STARRED REVIEW
December 06, 2016

Adrenaline-charged social activism in Baltimore

By Ryan Gattis
Review by

Set in modern-day Baltimore and steeped in the racial inequalities and police brutalities that have long plagued the city, AIR is the story of an unlikely hero who discovers himself, his inner peace and his truest power through high-octane sports, used as a unique form of civil disobedience.

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Set in modern-day Baltimore and steeped in the racial inequalities and police brutalities that have long plagued the city, AIR is the story of an unlikely hero who discovers himself, his inner peace and his truest power through high-octane sports, used as a unique form of civil disobedience.

Grey Monroe is 17 years old when his father murders his mother in their Colorado home, and soon after her funeral, his family splits him up from his younger siblings and sends him to live with his aunt in Baltimore. Days later, Grey befriends Akil Williams, a secretive teen who lives nearby with dirt bikes in his den. That same night, Akil convinces Grey to take a wild ride with him through the streets of downtown Baltimore, and from then on, Grey is absolutely hooked on the freedom and adrenaline the bike brings.

On a later ride, Grey and Akil end up saving Kurtis—an internet-famous, motorsports daredevil who blurs the lines between social activism and criminal behavior—during one of his stunts. The three teens grow closer, but when Akil is run down by a vindictive police officer, something shifts inside Grey, and he becomes an urban rebel with a bigger cause than he ever could have imagined.

In AIR, author Ryan Gattis (of All Involved critical acclaim) once again captures the pulse and plights of America’s urban youth, particularly those trying to survive in black and brown bodies. Crucially, his characters are more than just caricatures, and they must do anything they can to fight an establishment that seeks to eliminate them under the guise of safety—despite whatever freedoms, or however many breaths, it may steal from them.

 

Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.

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AIR

AIR

By Ryan Gattis
Adaptive
ISBN 9780986448423

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