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February 24, 2019

Book Review | The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf - A Malaysian Author!!

Book Review

Title: The Weight of Our Sky
Author: Hanna Alkaf
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: February 5th, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Buy Links: Kinokuniya Malaysia | MPH Online
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Rating:
Source: Huge thanks to Pansing Distribution for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

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 who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.

But there are things that Melati can't protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames. 

With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.

thoughts


It is my Most Anticipated Reads in 2019. When I heard that there is a book written by a Malaysian author - Hanna Alkaf, I am super ecstatic and moreover, it is a story that relates closely to us, it is in our country's history. The stories are written beautifully that captivate my heart the moment I start my reading. It is nail-biting stories that put me at the edge of my sit for the entire reading. The Weight of Our Sky's stories will leave its marks in my heart forever. 

Let me tell you something - a confession, never have I ever read the author's note for every book I have read but The Weight of Our Sky had made me read it. I was so thrilled that there is a book with a Malaysian representative so I want to devour every inch of this book. Yes, totally. 

Trigger Warning: Graphic Violence, Death, Racism, OCD, and Anxiety Triggers.

The Weight of Our Sky has transported me to the year 1969, May 13. What I have learned and known of this incident during my history class, I felt that I knew less of the incident and for that, this book is SO important and Hanna Alkaf did a very great job in writing this book although it was hard for me to get through this story and I need to say it again that this book is seriously GOOD and you need to read it.

The Weight of Our Sky is set in Kuala Lumpur, 1969 during the racial tension incident. Melati is a teenage young girl who lives in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur (my great grandparents' lives in Kampung Baru) with her mom who works as a Nurse in Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. After Melati's father died, she has been struggling with the Djinn inside her head that forms images in her head of something cruel about to happened to her mom, and for that, she resorts to counting anything that she can find and see in a set of threes. However, during the riot happened, Melati and her mom have been separated and that she has to face her fears, in order to find her mom through the chaos. The story also shares with us how Auntie Bee's family helps Melati and let everyone to stay at their house and sharing foods regardless they are Malay, Chinese, and even Indian - she helps all of them without any prejudice. She helps them regardless of any races with an open heart.

The story has gripped my heart to the core! It gives me all sort of emotions from reading it and I honestly had to take a break a few times on reading The Weight of Our Sky to make myself calm before continuing the journey of my reading. For every moment I read, I feel like I want to hug Melati, I want to hug Melati's mom, Auntie Bee, Vince, May, Jay, Uncle Chong, Frankie - basically everyone. To think of this incident, it makes me appreciate and love my country more and more, makes me proud to be Malaysian, proud that I have friends from every ethnicity and I even have a multi-racial family which I love so much.

Even though it has been forewarned in the author's note, it will not stop me from reading the book from the beginning until the end of it. The story that depicts during 1969, reading this book it felt so real like I was there to witness it with my own eyes and it hits me hard the moment the riot happened between Malay however that history is what shapes us now - the Malaysians - Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan Dusun, Bajau, Melanau, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, etc - we are one and we are united together. And this quote, I love the most;

"Dimana bumi dipijak, disitu langit dijunjung. Have you heard about this before? It means where we plant our feet is where we must hold up the sky. We live and die by the rules of the land we lives in. But this country belong to all of us! We make our own sky, and we can hold it up - together." - Hanna Alkaf, The Weight of Our Sky

Also, the OCD and anxiety representation that been portrayed in The Weight of Our Sky that been showed through Melati is really making me learn a lot and to be able to understand and how Melati go through her daily life.

I love the plot development and story pace in this book. The stories really affect me because as a Malaysian, you knew about the incident of the racial tensions happened during 1969. Apart from that, we can see the progress characters in The Weight of Our Sky, especially for Melati and Frankie.

Despite, the heavy content, the heart-wrenching moments, although I have already said, I want to say it again - I love this book so much and it stays at a special place in my heart and forever, it will be. I feel like I want to write more but I think I shall let you read it and get every bit and pieces of the story. Even my dad said this book is really good and Hanna's writing is amazing which I am absolutely agreed with! Thank you for writing this book, Mrs. Hanna. I really recommend everyone to read The Weight of Our Sky.

Add your comment

Siti Yang Menaip said...

i always feel great seeing people who love to read. i dont like to read..
i mean certain materials okayla not bad. hehe.. keep it up =)

Farah said...

I've seen a lot of tweets about this book. They made me intrigued but I may not read this book in the next few months because the topic is too heavy for my liking.

Nurul Afifah said...

I need this book! This is amazing. Our history and setting. Malaysian writer. OCD. Multiracial involvement. This is us and thanks to you or else I would never have known about this.

Shahida Dzulkafli said...

Wah.. review best.. TBR pun banyak dah nie.. hahaha..

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