Hi!!! Today’s post is all about The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. I’m so excited to be a part of the SEA blog tour for this incredible book. I’ll be sharing my own review and a playlist that I’ve made for this book! Before I get into what I have to show, here’s some information on the book and its brilliant author!
Melati Ahmad has imagined her mother’s death countless times. Plagued by gruesome thoughts she believes are put into her head by a djinn, Melati has developed an intricate set of tapping rituals to tame the monster within and keep her mother safe.
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.
Hanna Alkaf graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern University and spent over ten years writing everything from B2B marketing emails to investigative feature articles, from non-profit press releases to corporate brochures. She worked in Chicago as an online copywriter for several years upon graduation before coming home. She’s been a senior writer at Marie Claire Malaysia, the communications manager of education non-profit Teach For Malaysia, and a freelance journalist. Her articles have appeared in the Malaysian iterations of Marie Claire, Shape, and Esquire, as well as a host of other media both print and online.
Hanna now spends her time making it up as she goes along, both as an author of fiction and as a mom. THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY is her first novel. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family. (Photo credit: Azalia Suhaimi)
R E V I E W
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Melati finds herself in search of her mother in this intensive historical debut. Set against the race riots of 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, Melati suffers from severe OCD which she sees as omnipresent djinn that can only be controlled if she follows certain counting rituals, and if she fails to do so, her mother is at risk. The riots break out when she’s at the cinema, and a Chinese family saves Melati. While she has found temporary safety, her mind is always on her mother, as is determined to see her again.
I just loved this story a lot. I raced through it, and when it ended, I was devastated. This isn’t a straightforward story. Melati experiences acts of brutality from other both sides. And Alfak portrays Melati’s journey with such brilliance and strength. Mel is constantly racked with guilt as she watches the world burn while she survives. But she pushes through her Djinn’s watchful eye and confronts it all. She’s a very courageous teen, and her journey across a city in war is heart racing and compelling.
Not only does Melati shine, so does its secondary characters which make their mark just as much as Melati does. From her saviour Auntie Bee, an elderly Chinese stranger, who saves Melati in the nick of time, to her son, Vince. Melati finds allies and enemies everywhere as she joins Vince as the pair begin to help those in need.
The Weight of Our Sky is an exciting story which also discusses culture, mental health and religion, and how all three intersects. And for that I’m grateful. Mental health is rarely considered in Muslim communities. A lot of us are suffering but it’s often brushed away with blame on the individual for not being faithful enough, and this is mirrored here with Mel’s family as they don’t understand how to help Mel. Alfak highlights brilliantly the effects of lack of knowledge about mental health, and how Mel makes sense of her OCD by linking it to a djinn. The story is brutally honest and enthralling. It’s powerful to watch Mel discover what she’s capable of her, despite the circumstances. She can save the day, and I love that I could see parts of myself in her.
Overall, The Weight of Our Sky indeed is a heavy read which follows a historical period which is rarely discussed. It is moving and emotional on every page as we follow Mel on her journey to be reunited with her mother. It’s nerve-wracking as well as exciting. If you can, read it.
P L A Y L I S T
I chose to make a playlist for The Weight of Our Sky. This is my first time publicly sharing a playlist I’ve made! Which makes this 10000x more exhilarating!
G I V E A W A Y
There are so many cool goodies that are coming along now! So for the tour, there is a really amazing giveaway for anyone following along with us! One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Weight of Our Sky & a Kampung House colouring book! The colouring book is gorgeous, with line drawings of old-school Malaysian wooden kampung houses, common in 1969. Enter through the Rafflecopter link here!
Hanna has also prepared a US/ international giveaway to those who either pre-order the book or request it from your local library. Preorder and receive the chance to win:
- an enamel pin designed by Rizal Aziz
- a bookmark
- a signed bookplate illustrated by Hanna Alkaf
- a pop-up card featuring scenes of old-school Malaysia from Loka Made, illustrated by Fei Giap
For more information, check out the full preorder giveaway here.
There is also a separate giveaway to those in Malaysia. Preorder your special signed copies of The Weight of Our Sky in either paperback or hardcover from Bookalicious! to receive
- a bookmark (paperback)
- a bookmark and enamel pin (hardcover)
By the way, this is a separate giveaway to the US/INTL one and is not eligible for the INTL giveaway as preorders through Bookalicious! come with their own giveaway items. Find more information on the Bookalicious! promotion here!
Well, that’s all on my end here. Thank you so much for reading and checking out my playlist. Follow the tour below, and check out some of the previous, amazing posts that have already been posted!
January 28th – Vicky & Shealea
January 29th – Jessica @ Endless Chapters
January 30th – Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams
January 31st –Zoë @ If the Book Will Be Too Difficult
February 1st – You’re here!
February 4th –Vinny @ Artsy Draft
February 5th – Erika @ The Nocturnal Fey
February 6th – May @ Forever and Everly
February 7th – CW @ The Quiet Pond
February 8th – Kevin @ Bookevin