The Weight of Our Sky has left me with a heavy heart.
It left a weight that I will surely carry with me for a lifetime.
I honestly don’t know how or where to start with my review of this book. I stared at my laptop for god knows how long after finishing the book. Until, well… until I finally collected myself.
I am a self-proclaimed historical fiction lover, but I am ashamed to say that never have I ever read a historical fiction focusing in South-East Asia, except for my own country.
When I stumbled upon The Weight of Our Sky, all I know is that this book is by a Malaysian author. And honestly, it’s an absolute first for me to read a book with a Malaysian representation. Everything is new to me. And I was ecstatic. I was thrilled and looking forward to learn a lot. This book didn’t leave me disappointed.
I never knew I needed this book until today.
Unapologetically Malaysian story by a Malaysian writer.
The Weight of Our Sky tells the story of Melati during the 13 May incident, a Sino-Malay sectarian violence in Kuala Lumpur in 1969.
Melati was on a mission to find her mother who got separated from her in the midst of the chaos. While on a mission, Melati is also fighting her own demons as she suffers from severe anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
The history’s stigma of mental disorder was clearly depicted in Melati’s story. It was equally eye-opening and devastating. Melati believes, or at least what she was made to believe, that a Djinn is inside her head. The only thing that temporary stops her misery with what she belives a Djinn’s voice is a record play of songs, and counting anything by threes.
All the while portraying the hardship of having a mental illness in 1960s, Hanna Alkaf told us the 1960s Malaysia and the gripping story that happened in the same decade.
Knowing the history of different nations, for me, is fascinating, and yet can be extremely gut-wrenching and overwhelming. And having been experienced the 13 May incident through Melati’s mind and voice has left me emotionally devastated.
The Weight of Our Sky is a brutally honest tale. Hanna Alkaf wrote everything without holding back. The racial tension between Malays and Chinese was portrayed in the realest and rawest possible way, and I think that’s just how it’s supposed to be.
A gut-wrenching telltale.
Anything that portrays mental illness immediately catches my attention because I am eager to learn anything to do with it. Reading The Weight of Our Sky has left a significant weight in my heart.
This book is both beautiful and heavy read. Be sure that you are emotionally prepared if you read this book.
The Weight of Our Sky is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a while.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Vicky Who Reads and author Hanna Alkaf in exchange for an honest review in participation for blog tour. This doesn’t affect my opinion of the book in this review in any way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
The prize: a copy of The Weight of Our Sky & a Kampung House coloring book! (gorgeous line drawings of wooden kampung houses that would have been common in 1969–more info here!)
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
Jessica @ Endless Chapters (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Zoë @ If the Book Will Be Too Difficult (Interview)
As Told by Zaheerah (Review + Playlist)
Vinny @ Artsy Draft (Review + Aesthetic)
Erika @ The Nocturnal Fey (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Tour organized by Vicky Who Reads
Erika is a freelance content writer and illustrator from the Philippines. Aside from her love of arts and reading, she loves taking photos, coffee, cats, and fairies. She’s into fantasy, historical fiction, and contemporary, and anything young adult genres.