I started 2022 with this read, which was so thoughtfully gifted to me by one of my book club friends. Written by Hanna Alkaf (Malaysia), The Wight of Our Sky is about Melati, a girl caught in the Sino-Malay riots of May 1969. Melati has OCD, which for her is like a Djinn that is destroying her mind. Alright, so right off the bat you know this book has many, many trigger warnings. The author herself says it’s a hard book. If you don’t think you can go through it in one piece, it’s better to just not to.
I agree with her, though luckily I feel at this point in my life I’m ready. Having said that, The Weight of Our Sky does hit close to home with so many similarities to the May 1998 riots of Indonesia. I salute the author for writing such difficult realities head-on. It reminds me of Marjane Satrap’s Persepolis (graphic novel) in many ways. It is indeed also a reflection of hope if such a story is being published and marketed to the public.
In addition to the painful historical lessons of The Weight of Our Sky, Melati’s journey is at the end a journey of strength. The strength to face her internal demons head-on while standing up to rampaging societal demons of racism, hate, and violence. I find it fascinating that Melati’s fears, the visions plaguing her sanity, actually became real in the wake of the 1969 tragedy. Yet by living through that horrific incident she found that she was bigger than her fears.
There were hints of an almost-romance budding between Melati and Vince, and I was rooting for them the whole way. In case you’re interested, this book has also been adapted into a webtoon!