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.

What the community thinks

summary of 374 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

Expand filter menu View warnings


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


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