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The Weight of Our Sky: 03/11/19
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf begins with an author's note with a list of trigger warnings and a brief description of the historical context. Read it first. She warns of "graphic violence, death, racism, OCD, and anxiety triggers." And all those things are there. Much of it is real — in that it is experienced first hand by the protagonist, and some of it isn't. That which isn't is the product of her OCD and anxiety, which she has personified as a djinn.
Melati Ahmad's story begins in the week of May 13, 1969, when race riots between the Chinese and Malay erupted in Kuala Lumpur. People were killed. Buildings were looted and burned.
Melati finds herself in the middle of things when she and her friend go to see a movie. She ends up on her own, and then in the care of a woman who choses to lie to save her life.
Now imagine knowing that your friend is dead and expecting the same of your mother while already living with OCD and anxiety. That is what Melati faces. And yet, somehow she keeps her wits about her and holds onto her humanity despite the terrible things happening around her.
One of things that keeps Melati going is her love of the Beatles. She references songs throughout her ordeal — mostly from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album (1967).
It is a nail bitter of a YA novel. Even with the author's note, I would even recommend it for the older end of the middle grade set. And despite the violence and the trauma, it has a happy ending.
Comment #1: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 17:05:45
It does look like it packs quite the punch. Glad you enjoyed it. The artwork is pretty.
Comment #2: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 20:52:00
It's worth reading. I hope you do.