The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
By the time school ends on Tuesday, Melati Ahmad’s mother has died 17 times.
On the way to school, she is run over by a runaway lorry. During English, she is caught in a crossfire and hit by a stray bullet straight through the chest. At recess, she accidentally ingests some sort of dire poison. And as they peruse their geography textbooks, Melati’s mother is stabbed repeatedly by robbers.
Melati knows she isn’t to blame. It’s the Djinn, scratching at her mind with his wicked, clawed fingers, squeezing the air out of her lungs and pounding urgent tattoos on her heart. It’s only through an intricate web of counting and tapping that she’s able to tame the beast within her and keep her mother safe. That’s the sacrifice the Djinn demands, and one she’s happy to pay.
But it’s 1969, and on May 13th, the already percolating melting pot that is Kuala Lumpur boils over. As the Chinese and Malays wage war against each other, Mel and her mother find themselves separated by a city in flames. And with a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take all of the courage, grit and Beatles songs in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and the Djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.
Based on actual events, THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY is a young adult novel complete at about 57,000 words.