The Weight of Our Sky

The Weight of Our Sky

A music-loving teen with OCD does everything she can to find her way back to her mother during the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this heart-pounding literary debut.Melati Ahmad looks like your typical moviegoing, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one...

DownloadRead Online
Title:The Weight of Our Sky
Author:Hanna Alkaf
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Weight of Our Sky Reviews

  • Hizatul Akmah

    okay first and foremost, i would like to show my enormous gratitude because

    we get to see a Malaysian author's book about Malaysia history in major international bookstores.

    while reading this book, i couldn't help from reminiscing a few bits from

    which i read in high school (i read the original hardback version, mind you) and i just wanted to hug everyone who had to live amidst the hardships because of someone else's wrongdoings. Hanna told the story about a 16 years old girl

    okay first and foremost, i would like to show my enormous gratitude because

    we get to see a Malaysian author's book about Malaysia history in major international bookstores.

    while reading this book, i couldn't help from reminiscing a few bits from

    which i read in high school (i read the original hardback version, mind you) and i just wanted to hug everyone who had to live amidst the hardships because of someone else's wrongdoings. Hanna told the story about a 16 years old girl named Melati who has OCD during racism uproars in Kuala Lumpur on 13rd May of 1969 in such eloquent narratives. i've read and heard a lot about what happened in that tragedy and the most heart-wrenching part was what happened to the people in the cinema's hall.

    i could go on and on about what i loved about this book but i would only give you one here:

    there was no love-can-cure-your-mental-illnesses bullshit provided. 10/10 would

    indeed!

  • Vicky Who Reads

    I was so awed by this book.

    So many things work in it. From Alkaf’s exploration of the racial tensions of the time to Melati’s struggles to reach her mother while needing to satisfy the djinn inside her and her anxieties to the nearly tangible tension of this story.

    It’s definitely a doozy–in only a short period of time, Melati goes through so much and this book is a serious gut-punch (so be prepared and pack some tissues). But all of the emotions it made me feel were so worth it, and I

    I was so awed by this book.

    So many things work in it. From Alkaf’s exploration of the racial tensions of the time to Melati’s struggles to reach her mother while needing to satisfy the djinn inside her and her anxieties to the nearly tangible tension of this story.

    It’s definitely a doozy–in only a short period of time, Melati goes through so much and this book is a serious gut-punch (so be prepared and pack some tissues). But all of the emotions it made me feel were so worth it, and I am totally in love with Alkaf’s writing and Melati.

    Melati was just so strong–even though she might not seem like it on first glance. The race riots and being separated from her mother is extremely stressful, especially with her anxiety and OCD, and it was A Lot for any teen to go through. I think Alkaf handled this extremely well, both showing how Melati felt like she couldn’t get through this and how she felt like she couldn’t reach her mother, all while she still persisted.

    That inner strength was so nice to read about, and Melati is a wonder for getting through everything that was happening. Her entire growth and discovery of inner strength was really powerful, and I loved that about this book.

    Plus, Alkaf’s showing of the historic race riots of 1969 in Malaysia was so well done, and the way she showed the history revealed the racial tensions between the Chinese and the Malay, and how both “sides” had their flaws. There was a certain scene at the end that read really powerfully for me, and this is defintiely another highlight of the book.

    I found The Weight of Our Sky wholly relatable on a lot of different levels. There haven’t been many books with Southeast Asian protagonists by Southeast Asian authors, but The Weight of Our Sky hit really close to home for me. Although this wasn’t a perfect match for rep with me (I’m Indonesian, not Malaysian), some of the elements–like when the students said terima kasih to their teacher–I recognized from my mother’s own stories about Indonesia. And the race riots, although somewhat different, that she lived through when she was a college student.

    I laughed (the puns!), I cried, and I raged while reading this book, and Alkaf really pushed the readers to experience the rollercoaster that is this novel, which I loved.

    The whole story was paced well, so some moments where it needed to slow down and take a breath, it did, and other moments where the story sped up and kept you furiously flipping the pages, it also satisfied the need. And the ending absolutely tore me apart, but seeing Melati come out of it stronger, which made it all worth it.

    If you’re looking for a book that really hits you in the feels, definitely check out The Weight of Our Sky! I promise, you won’t regret it. I certainly didn’t.

    I look forward for the next book Alkaf brings us, because this was a spectacular debut and one that I will definitely find myself rereading time and time again.

    |

    |

  • CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    .

    My goodness, I needed this. I needed this book, I needed the Malaysian representation, and I am overjoyed that I have read it.

    -

    is one brilliant, emotional, and heavy-hearted debut, and

    .

    - Follows Melati, a Malay teen with OCD plagued by a djinn and visions of her mother's graphic deaths, who searches for her mother amidst the racial riots between Chinese and Malay people in

    .

    My goodness, I needed this. I needed this book, I needed the Malaysian representation, and I am overjoyed that I have read it.

    -

    is one brilliant, emotional, and heavy-hearted debut, and

    .

    - Follows Melati, a Malay teen with OCD plagued by a djinn and visions of her mother's graphic deaths, who searches for her mother amidst the racial riots between Chinese and Malay people in Malaysia.

    - This book is so unapologetically Malaysian and I loved it. I loved the small nuances and nods to Malaysian identity and culture - aunties being aunties, landmarks, Malaysian English, and PUNS!!!! (WE MALAYSIANS LOVE PUNS!!!!!)

    - But goodness, this book is heavy. It explores trauma, cultural difference, prejudices, and what strength and solidarity looks like in a time when difference could mean life or death.

    I am honoured that I was able to read the eARC of this as part of Hanna's book tour, so my full review will appear on my blog on February 7th, 2019. You don't want to miss my full review of this.

    Trigger/content warning:

    -

    :

    I don't often share thoughts about a book before reading it, but here, I'll make an exception.

    I can't wait to read this book. It's one of my most anticipated reads ever.

    My parents survived the race riots in 1969, and May 13th has left a deep and traumatic emotional scar on my family, their friends, and the older generation of Malaysia. I don't know much about it beyond brief personal recounts and the limited information on the internet - so reading this book, learning a bit about my family's history, learning about what happened, will mean

    to me.

  • Hanna Alkaf

    This seems like a good place to put this, so if you're considering reading my book -- I'M THE AUTHOR! HI! -- I'd like to warn you ahead of time that the contents include: Racism, graphic violence, on-page death, OCD and anxiety triggers. If you're not in the right frame of mind to take that on, please consider setting it aside and waiting until you're better able to take these on.

    Thank you for wanting to read THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY; it's a very personal book to me in a lot of ways, and it means

    This seems like a good place to put this, so if you're considering reading my book -- I'M THE AUTHOR! HI! -- I'd like to warn you ahead of time that the contents include: Racism, graphic violence, on-page death, OCD and anxiety triggers. If you're not in the right frame of mind to take that on, please consider setting it aside and waiting until you're better able to take these on.

    Thank you for wanting to read THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY; it's a very personal book to me in a lot of ways, and it means a lot to share that with you <3

  • Zen Cho

    Moving, sincere and fast-paced, with a wealth of local detail. I thought the heavy subject matter was handled very deftly and hope this will only be the first of many more "unapologetically Malaysian" books!

  • may ➹

    I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction. It bores me, it’s written dryly, and I just don’t connect as much to the characters.

    But The Weight of Our Sky is different. It’s captivating, in a devastatingly emotional way, and its stunning writing pulls you in. You feel for the characters and people in this book, so much that it hurt. Somehow in less than 300 pages,

    , over and over and over again.

    The Weight of Our Sky tells the story of Melati,

    I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction. It bores me, it’s written dryly, and I just don’t connect as much to the characters.

    But The Weight of Our Sky is different. It’s captivating, in a devastatingly emotional way, and its stunning writing pulls you in. You feel for the characters and people in this book, so much that it hurt. Somehow in less than 300 pages,

    , over and over and over again.

    The Weight of Our Sky tells the story of Melati, a Muslim Malay girl living in Malaysia during the time of the 1969 race riots in Malaysia, an ugly battle between the Malays and the Chinese. Melati lives with OCD and anxiety, but she is led to believe that it’s instead a djinn that lives inside her head, feeding her images of her loved ones’ deaths that she believes she can only prevent by counting in threes.

    These race riots… are brutal.

    I’d never read anything about them before, and that just made it even more shocking. It’s hard to get through, because it hits you hard and you can’t believe that something so vicious could happen. And Alkaf doesn’t shy away from depicting these cruel acts against humanity and is able to depict

    .

    Living through this is made worse for by Melati because of her mental illnesses. The portrayal of her anxiety and OCD is just exceptionally well-done, especially in a time and place where mental illness was heavily stigmatized. As someone with anxiety, the way Melati felt consumed by her fear and worry stood out to me, because the same thing often happens to me as well.

    Before I read this book, I was slumping, and especially struggling to read ebooks. This book, though, I absolutely devoured, reading so much faster than I usually do because it was just so engrossing. It packs so much into a book of less than 300 pages, without it feeling dry or slow, managing to keep you captured the entire time.

    One of the things that keeps you so captivated is Melati herself. Her character is written so well, and her struggle to manage her anxiety without giving into the Djinn is heartbreaking to read. You can feel her pain and her worry so much, and it’s enough to make you want to sob.

    But the way Mel is able to grow throughout the book and become stronger for the pain and troubles she goes through to find her mother is absolutely beautiful.

    , and her love for her mother truly shines.

    Speaking of her mother—the relationships in this book were so strong. Melati refuses to stop searching for her mother, even when her own safety and health is at risk, and it seems hopeless at times. There’s Melati’s best friend Safiyah, who were in scenes I teared up over. There’s the Chinese boy Melati meets who helps her stay alive, Vincent, sweet and kind. There’s a little Malaysian girl Melati meets and takes care of, May.

    All of these relationships and more show how not only in this terrible time is there war and cruelty—there are also people helping people, Malay, Indian, Chinese. Race is what divided some, but race doesn’t keep apart everyone else from helping each other in their time of need.

    Her nuanced portrayal of these horrific events is already impressive, but she also manages to write everything beautifully. How she can tell a story grim and dark but weave in threads of hope and light is beyond me.

    Southeast Asian rep is difficult to find in popular books, even in just “somewhat” popular books. And while I’m Thai, not Malaysian, there were so many cultural things in this book that I could relate to, even as someone who lives in the US and has visited Thailand only 6 times before.

    When I read of the streets described in the book, I pictured roads in Thailand. When I read of the markets and vendors in the book, I pictured the stands and street markets in Thailand. I mean, even the inclusion of motorcycles made me think of Thailand. It’s these little details that may not be noticeable to non-Asians that mean a lot to Asian readers.

    Just as it is obvious that I love Thailand and cherish my Thai culture, I see the same in Melati as well. Despite the horrors going on, it is clear that she loves her country still and

    . And that pride, that love—it is so very meaningful to see.

    This story is not only of heartbreak, nor is it a story only of hope.

    , and how you can be broken over and over again, but you will still survive and keep surviving, even if you have a few scars.

    I fully recommend this breathtaking historical debut. It’s incredibly difficult to get through without wanting to curl into a ball and wish nothing like this ever happened, but

    . It’s an important, relevant story, and I have no doubt many others will fall in love with Melati, her journey, and Alkaf’s writing just as I did.

  • C.G. Drews

    Absolutely prepare yourself for heartbreak with this one, all wrapped up in a story of riots and mental illness and a girl just trying to stay alive and find her mother. It's probably too early for a full review sooo I'm just going to squish my little recommendation into your life and say: get this one on your TBR. History is honestly so despicably Western focused and I never even

    about the race riots in 1969 in Malaysia. So I learnt!

    Absolutely prepare yourself for heartbreak with this one, all wrapped up in a story of riots and mental illness and a girl just trying to stay alive and find her mother. It's probably too early for a full review sooo I'm just going to squish my little recommendation into your life and say: get this one on your TBR. History is honestly so despicably Western focused and I never even

    about the race riots in 1969 in Malaysia. So I learnt!

    who also has OCD and it's

    that I felt all her agonies. (That's good writing though?!) I do cautiously wonder at the end when it seemed you could out-think your mental illness if you tried harder? Because yikes. However I don't think the story was advocating that. I just think it could've been a little clearer worded. Anyway

    Like I can't even imagine what she went through?! Seeing bodies and murders and just...witnessing it. AND having really severe OCD already...ajfdklsad. She amazed me how she kept going and stopped at nothing to find her mother again.

    Anyway, like I said!! I'll come back for a full review but for now:

    ✧ full POC cast

    ✧ Melati's voice is very vivid and easy to be caught up in

    ✧ SUPER EMOTIONAL WRITING

    ✧ very tough subject matter handled so well

    ✧ like it'll b r e a k you in several parts

    ✧ no romance! which I appreciate and is rare in YA

    ✧ ownvoices Malaysian rep

    ✧ Beatles appreciation

    ✧ it's a good book, Brent

    ✧ watch out for it in 2019 yes yes

  • Emily May

    4 stars. This has to be one of the most original YA books I've read in a long time. It just checked all the boxes for me.

    is set during the 1969 race riots in Kuala Lumpur. After a contentious election,

    4½ stars. This has to be one of the most original YA books I've read in a long time. It just checked all the boxes for me.

    is set during the 1969 race riots in Kuala Lumpur. After a contentious election, Chinese and Malays took to the streets, rioting, burning down houses, and brutally murdering each other.

    Alkaf does not sugarcoat it. This book is dark and gruesome, containing graphic violence, but it is never gratuitous. On the contrary, the author writes with such compassion for her characters, both Chinese and Malay, ultimately urging us to never forget; to never let this become a cold fact in a history book that we do not appreciate in all its horror and intensity.

    While set during the riots, this is also a book about OCD and anxiety. Melati must constantly perform small rituals of tapping and counting to appease the djinn inside her. I found this so different and believable and sad. In 1969 there was even more stigma against mental illness than there is today, and it seemed natural that Melati would believe herself to be possessed by a djinn, given her family's religious beliefs and lack of alternative explanation.

    I think the author does a great job of capturing Melati's obsessive circles of thought. In fact, I felt my own anxiety spiking alongside hers as she fears and doubts everything. It is, of course, all exacerbated by the terrifying circumstances Melati finds herself in-- separated from her mother in the middle of so much violence and destruction.

    Between the violence, chases and battles for survival, and Melati's chaotic mindset, the book rarely stands still. But in the few moments when it does, we are treated to Malaysian folktales and passionate discussions about music. This latter offers Melati a brief respite from the djinn, and us a brief respite from the dark and upsetting events of the novel.

    Gorgeous and evocative descriptions of the setting also offer a balance to the horror:

    I feel compelled to mention that this is in NO WAY a "romance cures mental illness" book, which was my biggest fear after reading the description and being introduced to Vince. This is not that kind of book at all.

    There's so much good in

    . It's a fascinating character portrait of a girl with a mental illness in 1960s Malaysia; it's a reminder of a piece of the past we must not forget; and it's about the small acts of kindness that emerge out of the darkest of times.

    CW: Graphic violence; death; OCD; anxiety; racism.

    |

    |

    |

    |

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء

    is a labor of great pain, but it's also a labor of tremendous love.

    I went into this book knowing very little about the race riots of 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, but Hanna Alkaf has delivered a very informed, yet intimately personal account of one of the most tragic incidents that are folded into the history of Malaysia.

    The weight of the riots’ reality falls upon Melati, a

    is a labor of great pain, but it's also a labor of tremendous love.

    I went into this book knowing very little about the race riots of 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, but Hanna Alkaf has delivered a very informed, yet intimately personal account of one of the most tragic incidents that are folded into the history of Malaysia.

     The weight of the riots’ reality falls upon Melati, a Muslim Malay teen, when a Chinese execution mob irrupts into the theater where Melati was hanging out with her best friend, Saf. It’s all frantic, sluggish panic when Melati is saved by a Chinese lady and forced to leave Saf behind, and, in the gasping gnaw of her fear and guilt, Melati is running furiously through her options and finding precious few that hold even a glimmer of hope. But even when her mind played these unkind games, Melati's courage unbowed, her determination searing a path through the haze of despair. Death is ambling through the empty streets of Kuala Lumpur, and Melati wants to break and run, in any direction, so long as it led to her mother.

    Dread was a steady drumbeat in my throat while reading this book. It caught at my guts like a cold hand and sat a nauseating quiver in the marrow of my bones, this realization that a person could be driven mad by hate, how a stranger—someone you’ve never met, much less

    —could look at you with odium etched into every line of their face, hatred pounding through them like blood and their hands tangling with it, and wish you

    . The thought is unutterably sad. After I finished, I spent some time researching and got even more out of the story. Not in the sense that I didn’t get stuff before, but that I understood it more after some mining. All that research didn’t squelch the storm that had kicked up in my mind, but it did leave a faint sickness behind.

    To see Alkaf also devote substantial effort and attention to the subject of mental illness and treat it with seriousness, and to see her use Melati’s experience as a fulcrum from which to examine the taboo surrounding mental health, especially within Muslim communities, snagged at my heart the most.

    Melati’s mind has been a realm of horrors since her father’s death drained all color from her life, his loss like a hole torn in the world. Ever since, Melati has settled into the belief that a djinn has stolen into her consciousness, a shadow across any possibility she might have had for happiness, and

    , it had seen in her the softest, weakest part of her heart where she held her mother and delighted in dragging into her mind festering images of her dying again and again. Because it was Melati’s deepest and most wretched fear and the djinn knew it. Now, the monster had set the clock ticking and Melati can only mollify him by counting and tapping in threes.

    is a riveting, bold, and honest story that allows for complexness in the reality of what living with mental illness is like. This kind of honesty is bracing and builds into something heart-wrenchingly resonant. Reading about Melati’s struggles filled my chest with that strange mixture of sorrow and understanding that I could never explain, a feeling that words could neither shape nor own. It made me feel unmoored, like I had nothing of my own, not even unspoken secrets.

    Family pride and honor hangs over everything and mental illness remains something which we would prefer the world to remain ignorant. Like Melati, moving deep among my memories are voices of people telling me my struggles are due to deficiency in faith, or weakness of character, that it was a trial, an act of punishment, that I was readily inviting demonic possession.

    Melati's story put me back into the feeling of my own world exploding into bright fragments of agony. How it kept spilling out of me, grabbing whatever it could, and how I learned to pretend it away.

    It was as if I was viewing my own illness from the end of a long tunnel, set apart from its immediacy, removed from the currents of its need. The gnawing misery did not ease, but stronger than that, more than that, was the mixture of guilt and shame and fear—fear that I’d be shunned, that I’d be labeled “crazy”, or “possessed”. What happens when your faith doesn’t cure that little rip in the middle of you, that black bruise on your soul struggling to heal? Does that mean Allah hates you? That you’re not praying properly? Is this your punishment for being a terrible Muslim? The questions surface from the wreckage, sharp and cold enough to impale.

    There’s a real stigmatization of mental illness in Muslim societies, and in many ways, this owes more to culture than Islam in itself. Books like

    are so important because they open the door wide open for conversation.

     It’s important to address the extremely negative and non-medical perceptions a lot of Muslims have about mental illness.

    . Alkaf allows hope to buoy to the surface and lances through the story with the butter-thin glimmer of gaiety and tenderness. And even though the book feels like an array of heartrending moments, it feels more like an exuberant celebration of the small acts of courage and kindness that make huge differences, and an appreciation of each day as a renewed opportunity.

    With all that being said, I wish this book were longer, or that the story had a slower, more organic build. Instead, the novel’s tight pacing feels rushed, and the plot unfolds in fits and starts. I think a little more breathing room or build-up might have led to a smoother conclusion. A bit more ink in the pen would have also helped drawing out some of the characters, instead of making them special only to the extent they serve a purpose. The novel could have provided a more harmonious and detailed counterpoint to Melati’s journey rather than painting Vincent’s and Frankie’s storylines in very broad strokes, rendering them almost trivial.

    All these quibbles are the reason why I initially gave this book a three-stars rating, but upon reflection, I realized that these snags dissipate in the warm tide of an immensely affecting story, and an important, veracious voice.

    Overall, highly recommended!

    |

    |

    |

  • may ❀

    completed! for the reading rush, under the challenge of:

    i'm SOOSOSOSOSOOSOSOOSOSOSOSO CONFLICTED ON MY FEELINGS TOWARDS THIS BOOK

    - the representation of OCD was so

    . right from the first page, the reader witnesses how terrifying and vivid mel's visions are and how they make her fall into this whirlwind of compulsions

    - it depicts the horrors that took place in malaysia during 1969 when chinese and malay people went to war.

    completed! for the reading rush, under the challenge of:

    i'm SOOSOSOSOSOOSOSOOSOSOSOSO CONFLICTED ON MY FEELINGS TOWARDS THIS BOOK

    - the representation of OCD was so

    . right from the first page, the reader witnesses how terrifying and vivid mel's visions are and how they make her fall into this whirlwind of compulsions

    - it depicts the horrors that took place in malaysia during 1969 when chinese and malay people went to war. and my goodness, you can really see the scene play out and feel the fear and desperation that melati felt

    - it proved to be a story of overcoming personal prejudices as well as combating mental health. it was a story of heartbreak and horror but also one of acceptance and hope

    - the author included a list of trigger warnings and i thought that was SO COOL

    - i wouldn't say i disliked //anything// in particular, but i found certain things hindered my reading experience

    - from a purely literary standpoint, i found it really repetitive. yes it showed OCD and the cycle of compulsions extremely well but at times i felt like i was just rereading the same scenes over and over without any additional information

    - i didn't connect well with the writing (totally my fault) and i kinda had to force myself to continue reading it

    - idk if it was just me, but i felt religion was kinda featured in a one-dimensional, primitive lens :/

    - the ending felt unfinished to me, there was a HUGE build up and i then everything got pretty much resolved within 10 pages

    it's

    a book that didn't connect well with

    but i do think a lot of readers would appreciate this honest and complex story that is personal to others in so many ways

    2.5 stars

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.