Review of ‘The Weight of Our Sky’

A powerful and profoundly moving account of a tragic historical time, The Weight of Our Sky follows a young girl struggling to find her way home through the terrible race riots.

The Weight of Our Sky takes readers to 1969 Malaysia, right at the beginning of the terrible and tragic race riots.

Powerful Storytelling

Readers follow Melati, a young sixteen-year-old girl. A typical teenager, the only thing that makes her different is her OCD, which she believes is a djinn living inside her.

The portrayal of her OCD and how debilitating it makes the reader so empathetic. The fact that she believes that her OCD results from a djinn taking possession of her body after her father’s death speak volumes. She probably always had a mild case of OCD, but then her father’s death and his last words to watch after her mother sent it into overdrive.

It is an utterly realistic showcase of a mental disorder that can be, at times, so debilitating. And during the 1960s, OCD was not a recognized disorder. It did not become one until the 1980s, when it was finally classified as an anxious disorder.

So to see her try to make sense of what is going on with her, listening to the obsessive thoughts telling her that her mother will die if she does not do things in a certain way, is heartbreaking.

And while she has these thoughts, she gets caught up in the race riots. It started as a typical day for Melati, going to the movies with her friend when the race riots began. Men with machetes separated Melati and her friend, letting her go and keeping her friend.

There are more instances such as this when Alkaf shows the violence without being explicit with the detail. It is not hard to imagine what transpires in that movie theater. And when she sees more violence on her way to get back to her mother, again, the tragedies surrounding her are not hard to imagine.

Final Thoughts

The Weight of Our Sky is a heartbreaking and honest depiction of a historical moment. Worth the read and discussion; the book teaches young readers to be okay with discussing their anxieties and the dangers of racism.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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