The Night Diary

The Night Diary

It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dan...

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Title:The Night Diary
Author:Veera Hiranandani
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Night Diary Reviews

  • Rashika (is tired)

    The book I FUCKING DESERVE.

  • Donalyn

    Beautiful and heartbreaking. A treasure.

  • Hannah Greendale

    to watch a video review of this book on my channel,

    .

    The year is 1947 and India, now free of British rule, has been split into two countries: India and Pakistan. Because of the divide, tension has erupted between Hindus and Muslims. Twelve-year-old Nisha and her family are Hindu, but her deceased mother was Muslim; Nisha is uncertain where she belongs. When Nisha and her family become refugees, forced to journey alongside thousands of others to a new home, sh

    to watch a video review of this book on my channel,

    .

    The year is 1947 and India, now free of British rule, has been split into two countries: India and Pakistan. Because of the divide, tension has erupted between Hindus and Muslims. Twelve-year-old Nisha and her family are Hindu, but her deceased mother was Muslim; Nisha is uncertain where she belongs. When Nisha and her family become refugees, forced to journey alongside thousands of others to a new home, she charts her arduous trek via letters written every night in her journal – beginning each one, Dear Mama.

    *

    The cultural significance of Nisha’s story is not limited to her record of historical events. While recording her thoughts, Nisha reveals to young readers the many ways in which her life differs from other children around the world. “

    ,”* she explains, and everyone’s varied religions – Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh – are evident “

    ”* On Nisha’s birthday, she receives the diary as a gift “

    .”* In reflecting on the extravagant nature of this gift, the simplicity of her life is most evident.

    *

    Food is central to Nisha’s story. Hiranandani’s descriptions of warm unleavened bread (

    ), spiced split pea and lentil soup (

    ), and potatoes and vegetables deep fried in a seasoned batter (

    ) are liable to make anyone hungry. For Nisha, cooking is a source of comfort; the kitchen is a place where family comes together. When her family has walked for days and faces death by starvation, a simple bowl of rice and lentils is a saving grace – unseasoned food becomes the most wonderful thing she’s ever tasted.

    Comfort found in preparing and eating food sustains Nisha, but it cannot quell her confusion about what’s happening around her. In contemplating her country’s upheaval and the way it has affected her family as well as everyone around her, Nisha explores weighty themes and, through questioning her situation, inadvertently makes powerful assertions.

    *

    *

    *

    Though Nisha’s story is moving, the narrative is limited by the constraints of its epistolary format. As a first-person narrator, Nisha’s voice is occasionally dull and the prose often lacks sparkle. Making up for this are the moments when Nisha’s longing for her mother saturates her letters, making for a sentimental read that will force some readers to reach for a box of tissues.

    *

    Violent content bears mentioning, given the age group of the book’s intended audience (ages 8 to 12). At one point, Nisha is held captive with a knife at her throat. Nisha encounters a man who says, “

    ”* Also, Nisha witnesses several men fighting and describes violent images such as blood, a man with a slashed leg, a man with a gun, a man being stabbed in the chest, a man getting his throat slashed, and people dying.

    is a moving story of a refugee girl’s search for home, identity, and family in a divided country; however, parents are well advised to be mindful of the book’s content before handing it to young readers.

    -

    Special thanks to

    for providing a free copy of

    in exchange for an honest review.

    *Note: All quotes are provided from an uncorrected proof.

  • Sinead (Huntress of Diverse Books)

    I received an ARC of The Night Diary from the UK distributor. I’d actually been interested in this book for quite some time. It’s set at the time of the partition between India and Pakistan, and written for a middle grade audience.

    It’s #ownvoices for Indian representation.

    __

    I love the writing style. It’s written in the form of letters that Nisha addresses to her late mother. This gave the reading experience a very organic feeli

    I received an ARC of The Night Diary from the UK distributor. I’d actually been interested in this book for quite some time. It’s set at the time of the partition between India and Pakistan, and written for a middle grade audience.

    It’s #ownvoices for Indian representation.

    __

    I love the writing style. It’s written in the form of letters that Nisha addresses to her late mother. This gave the reading experience a very organic feeling, as there were different time spans between the letters and the time Nisha had to write a letter made a difference to the detail the letter had. Nisha is a quiet girl, who doesn’t talk much. The trauma of the refugee experience leads to her becoming mute. Thus writing becomes her only tool of communication.

    I don’t know much about the time of the partition, so I felt like I learnt quite a bit through the story.

    Nisha is half-Muslim and half-Hindu. In a time, where the country is being divided by religions, she cannot understand it as she knows she is both. I liked reading her thoughts on this issue.

    It’s a story about borders and how they create new barriers in our hearts and change who we trust. I thought it was an emotional and insightful read.

    __

    A very beautiful book! The Night Diary would be excellent in a classroom setting as the teacher could include lessons on history and the creation of nations, while discussing this book.

    Trigger warnings: violence.

  • Chelsea

    I picked up The Night Diary because my friend Laura @ Green Tea & Paperbacks loved it and I recently had a wonderful experience reading Amal Unbound, another diverse middle grade novel. While I wouldn’t say that middle grade is my favourite genre, I do like to read it from time to time.

    The Night Diary did not disappoint. I listened to the audiobook, which happened to be narrated by the same narrator of Amal Unbound! I absolutely love their voice and would listen to every book they’ve worked

    I picked up The Night Diary because my friend Laura @ Green Tea & Paperbacks loved it and I recently had a wonderful experience reading Amal Unbound, another diverse middle grade novel. While I wouldn’t say that middle grade is my favourite genre, I do like to read it from time to time.

    The Night Diary did not disappoint. I listened to the audiobook, which happened to be narrated by the same narrator of Amal Unbound! I absolutely love their voice and would listen to every book they’ve worked on.

    This novel is about a girl named Nisha, set in 1947 when India became independent. Her mother – who died in childbirth – was Muslim and her father Hindu, so the family is torn between two new worlds: India and Pakistan. The way this author educates readers is wonderful. We don’t get info-dumps; we learn through Nisha’s experiences. The Indian representation is #OwnVoices and the author’s note was brilliant.

    Every single character was complex. It’s not explicitly stated, but I’d say Nisha has social anxiety and selective mutism, the latter a result of trauma.

    My only criticism is the glorification of Ghandi.

    content and trigger warnings for death, violence (anti-Hindu and anti-Muslim), illness: starvation and dehydration, religion

  • Lata

    Told from the point of view of a 11-year old Nisha and her diary entries, which are addressed to her dead mother, this is a really interesting way to relate a little of the confusion, frustration, fear and sadness experiences of India’s Partition in 1947. People were suddenly told to leave their homes and towns and travel many kilometres away to start their lives over again, amidst an atmosphere of unexpected anger amongst people who had lived together for years. While there had always been tens

    Told from the point of view of a 11-year old Nisha and her diary entries, which are addressed to her dead mother, this is a really interesting way to relate a little of the confusion, frustration, fear and sadness experiences of India’s Partition in 1947. People were suddenly told to leave their homes and towns and travel many kilometres away to start their lives over again, amidst an atmosphere of unexpected anger amongst people who had lived together for years. While there had always been tensions between people of different faiths, Partition saw neighbours committing violence against one another, though the violence wasn’t everywhere along the new border.

    Nisha and her family must abruptly leave the only home she and her brother have known; the two have Hindu father and a Muslim mother, and though her doctor father is well respected, the family is threatened repeatedly. Nisha is scared as they must walk many kilometres to find a place to board a train to get over the border.

    Since this is a kids’ book, all the political wrangling and violence are kept to a minimum, and the focus is on Nisha’s feelings, the fear of all the family members. The author does a good job conveying the tension of the family and the overall situation.

  • Lola

    There are two reasons that I can think of right now of why

    novels are as valuable as History courses, if not more.

    Because unless you’re a university student who takes very specific History courses with the subjects that you really want to learn about, chances are your high school History professors will focus on European and American History. That’s from my Canadian perspective, anyways.

    The other reason is that while History courses usually cover a topic and make you learn all

    There are two reasons that I can think of right now of why

    novels are as valuable as History courses, if not more.

    Because unless you’re a university student who takes very specific History courses with the subjects that you really want to learn about, chances are your high school History professors will focus on European and American History. That’s from my Canadian perspective, anyways.

    The other reason is that while History courses usually cover a topic and make you learn all the ‘‘important’’ facts and dates – which, personally, I forget almost immediately after graduating the course – professors frequently talk about historical events matter-of-factly and rarely make you FEEL what the population who, for instance, survived WWII FELT.

    And this comes from someone who used to avoid Historical Fiction. Like any other genre, it can be boring if explored poorly or burdened with unnecessary description.

    I like books – from almost any genre – that make it possible for you to visualize scenes in your head and that leave an impression, not just a mental one but an emotional one, too. I like books that are emotionally affective because, in twenty years, I will probably forget most of what happened in those books, but I will never forget how I felt reading them. And isolating those feelings will lead me to remembering what triggered them in the first place.

    This book is one of those books that make you FEEL. The writing is lyrical, the topic important, relevant, and especially realistic. It’s also written in diary entries and, as someone who cannot keep a diary for longer than two weeks, this novel format fascinates me.

    I not only thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading this book, but I also learned from it. No one ever told me Pakistan and India were once the same country. Either my History professors assumed that was common knowledge, even for a tween/teen, or they didn’t bother mentioning it because it didn’t fit with their course outlines.

    My point is, History courses do teach you a lot, but sometimes it’s better to learn on your own, notably when you want to gain knowledge on a very specific subject and FEEL more than absorb descriptions, and fictional stories can be a great way to do that.

    is a great way to do that.

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  • Adiba Jaigirdar

    I was super excited about this book but it wasn't as amazing as I had hoped it would be. The format didn't really work for me. The epistolary format just made everything feel a bit distant. There were some really great things about the book as well though - I really liked the concept and most of the characters, and there were some really, really moving and well-written scenes.

    Full review coming soon!

  • Rida Imran

    The cover is beautiful. Being from Pakistan while I've heard a lot of partition stories, I've never read any..

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