The Weight of Our Sky

Hanna Alkaf

fiction historical young adult
emotional medium-paced

288 pages | first published 2019

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 movie-going, 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.

A trip to the movies after school turns into a nightmare when the city erupts into violent race riots between the Chinese and the Malay. When gangsters come into the theater and hold movie-goers hostage, Mel, a Malay, is saved by a Chinese woman, but has to leave her best friend behind to die.

On their journey through town, Mel sees for herself the devastation caused by the riots. In her village, a neighbor tells her that her mother, a nurse, was called in to help with the many bodies piling up at the hospital. Mel must survive on her own, with the help of a few kind strangers, until she finds her mother. But the djinn in her mind threatens her ability to cope.

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Moods

emotional 85%
tense 71%
dark 65%
sad 54%
challenging 42%
informative 31%
hopeful 25%
inspiring 17%
reflective 17%
adventurous 14%
mysterious 5%

Pace

medium 60%
fast 31%
slow 8%

Plot- or character-driven?

A mix: 50% | Character: 40% | Plot: 10%

Strong character development?

Yes: 71% | It's complicated: 21% | N/A: 3% | No: 3%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 60% | It's complicated: 33% | No: 6%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 100%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 93% | It's complicated: 3% | N/A: 3%

Average rating

4.21