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 dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can't imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.

The Night Diary Details

TitleThe Night Diary
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 6th, 2018
PublisherKokila
ISBN-139780735228511
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Childrens, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fiction, Cultural, India

The Night Diary Review

  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    There are two reasons that I can think of right now of why Historical Fiction 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 Historical Fiction 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. The Night Diary is a great way to do that.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Hannah Greendale
    January 1, 1970
    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. 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, Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. 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.I’ve never had a diary before. When Kazi gave it to me, he said it was time to start writing things down, and that I was the one to do it. He said someone needs to make a record of the things that will happen because the grown-ups will be too busy.* 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. “Not all girls go to school,”* she explains, and everyone’s varied religions – Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh – are evident “by the clothes they [wear] or the names they [have.]”* On Nisha’s birthday, she receives the diary as a gift “wrapped in brown paper, tied with a piece of dried grass.”* In reflecting on the extravagant nature of this gift, the simplicity of her life is most evident. I once read an English story where a little girl got a big pink cake and presents wrapped in shiny paper and bows for her birthday. I thought about the little gifts Kazi gives us all the time – a piece of candy under our pillows or a ripe tomato from the garden, sliced, salted, and sprinkled with chili pepper on a plate. Cake and bows must be nice, but is anything better than a perfect tomato?* Food is central to Nisha’s story. Hiranandani’s descriptions of warm unleavened bread (chapatti), spiced split pea and lentil soup (dal), and potatoes and vegetables deep fried in a seasoned batter (pakoras) 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. [Papa] says that when you separate people into groups, they start to believe that one group is better than another. I think about Papa’s medical books and how we all have the same blood, and organs, and bones inside us, no matter what religion we’re supposed to be.* So a Hindu family kills a Muslim family, who kills a Hindu family, who kills a Muslim family. It would never end unless someone ended it. But who was going to do that?*I don’t want to think about the answer, but my pencil needs to write it anyway: If you were alive, would we have to leave you because you are Muslim? Would they have drawn a line right through us, Mama?*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. Sometimes I hear you talking to me. You have a sweet, low voice. “Nisha, just one more step,” you say. And I take it. You said to me when we were so thirsty, “Pretend the air is water. Drink it in.” I did, Mama, I wouldn’t ever say this to anyone else but if we died, would that mean we could be with you?* 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, “Hindus killed my family [. . .] Sliced their throats as I watched. And then I escaped, but I should have let them kill me, too.”* 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. The Night Diary 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 Dial Books for Young Readers for providing a free copy of The Night Diary in exchange for an honest review. *Note: All quotes are provided from an uncorrected proof.
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  • Rashika (is tired)
    January 1, 1970
    The book I FUCKING DESERVE.(Updating my review with the letter I wrote to my great-grandma as part of the blog tour)Dear Great-Grandma,I am not the best at writing letters that are also going to be on display but you know, I am trying. I recently read The Night Diary, which is currently the only book I am calling a favorite of this year and I’ve read 86 books so far. Reading it has made me incredibly pensive because the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking that I was reading your and The book I FUCKING DESERVE.(Updating my review with the letter I wrote to my great-grandma as part of the blog tour)Dear Great-Grandma,I am not the best at writing letters that are also going to be on display but you know, I am trying. I recently read The Night Diary, which is currently the only book I am calling a favorite of this year and I’ve read 86 books so far. Reading it has made me incredibly pensive because the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking that I was reading your and grandma’s story too. Sometimes its disheartening that something that impacted my family and 16 million other people so much isn’t really talked about. Everyone always talks about the liberation of India with pride or the end of a colonial rule but they always forget about the 14 million people who were displaced. The 14 million people who had to pack up and leave their possessions, homes, friends and sometimes even family behind. Nani has never talked to me about what happened. The only stories that have been passed down to me have been through Mama who told me you told them to her when she was growing up and would spend summers at your farm. Mama always tells me the story of how you grabbed your kids and your husband, packed a little tin full of gold and used it to pay people along the way as you crossed the border. By the time you made it, you had nothing left. No home, no income and no money to start a new life in a country that wasn’t technically your home. Mama says you were a pretty bad-ass lady and I wish I could have gotten to meet you. Maybe you’re the ghost that I think is haunting me? If so, feel free to say hi. Sometimes I also wonder what life would have been like if the partition hadn’t happened and you didn’t have to flee your home but I wouldn’t be here if that happened. I think the thing I reflect the most on is how different my cultural identity would be if you never had to leave because of the horrible things happening at the time. But you know, thats was out of your control and I am glad you made it mostly in one piece. I know millions other didn’t and my heart hurts for them too. Anyway, it was nice talking to you even though you won’t be reading this. I hope you’re as proud of me as I am of you!Love,Rashika
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    I want to hold this book to my heart and never let go. What an absolutely gorgeous and heartbreaking work of art. Her writing is transcendent- I felt the wind, the dust, smelled the spices, felt the pencil in Nisha's hand! And the story: so vital. So poignant. Millions of people were (and no doubt still are) affected by this, and I am ashamed to say I had never heard of it until a few months ago. And Nisha, our sweet narrator . . . I love this precious girl! She made me sad, and happy, and I want to hold this book to my heart and never let go. What an absolutely gorgeous and heartbreaking work of art. Her writing is transcendent- I felt the wind, the dust, smelled the spices, felt the pencil in Nisha's hand! And the story: so vital. So poignant. Millions of people were (and no doubt still are) affected by this, and I am ashamed to say I had never heard of it until a few months ago. And Nisha, our sweet narrator . . . I love this precious girl! She made me sad, and happy, and hungry.
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  • Donalyn
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful and heartbreaking. A treasure.
  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    Man... this was so good. The Night Diary is easily one of the best assigned readings I've had in my entire grad degree program, and I'm so glad it was in my curriculum because I'm not sure how quickly I'd have picked it up otherwise. This story broke my heart over and over. I'll post a full review soon, because this one definitely deserves more than this quick little paragraph. Man... this was so good. The Night Diary is easily one of the best assigned readings I've had in my entire grad degree program, and I'm so glad it was in my curriculum because I'm not sure how quickly I'd have picked it up otherwise. This story broke my heart over and over. I'll post a full review soon, because this one definitely deserves more than this quick little paragraph. ♥
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  • Rida Imran
    January 1, 1970
    The cover is beautiful. Being from Pakistan while I've heard a lot of partition stories, I've never read any..
  • Nav 💁🏾
    January 1, 1970
    I first heard about The Night Diary during an Owlcrate video a few months ago and seeing as I'm Indian and this book is set during the period when India gained their independence I knew this was an absolute must read for me!PlotThis book follows a twelve year old girl called Nisha who together with her family are forced to leave their home following the partition of India. When the family end up on the Pakistan side they decide to attempt to travel by foot and train to the new India.Positives:- I first heard about The Night Diary during an Owlcrate video a few months ago and seeing as I'm Indian and this book is set during the period when India gained their independence I knew this was an absolute must read for me!PlotThis book follows a twelve year old girl called Nisha who together with her family are forced to leave their home following the partition of India. When the family end up on the Pakistan side they decide to attempt to travel by foot and train to the new India.Positives:- I learnt so much about what happened in the aftermath of the partition of India! As an Indian individual it's important to me to try and learn about the history of India, so I am grateful that The Night Diary has allowed me to do that.- I loved how the author didn't shy away from the truth of the partition and kept the story very honest and believable.- The story is told through Nisha's diary entries to her mother and I really liked this. It made the book feel more personal and emotional. The diary aspect also allowed me to see how slowly/quickly things were occurring once the partition had happened.Negatives:- This isn't a really big criticism because this book is so good, but it looked like it took until about 60ish% for the Dadi (grandma) to feel properly tired from all the walking, little food and drink. This just didn't feel realistic to me.Final thoughtsThe Night Diary was a really important read for me. The book provided me with the knowledge I wanted through a very heartfelt, honest and emotional story. If you enjoy reading middle grade fiction, in particular historical fiction or want to know more about what happened during the India partition, then I'd definitely recommend this book!
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  • AJ
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Lata
    January 1, 1970
    Told from the point of view of a 11-year old Nisha through 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 experienced during 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 and religious hatred amongst people who had lived together for years. Told from the point of view of a 11-year old Nisha through 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 experienced during 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 and religious hatred 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 a 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.
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  • Skip
    January 1, 1970
    Set in 1947, Hiranandani's book describes the traumatic end of British rule and the Partition, whereby India was divided into two countries. Young Nisha is the daughter of a doctor in what has become Pakistan, where his Hindu religion is suddenly rejected; however, his deceased wife was Muslim, leaving Nisha and her brother Amil in limbo. Along with their grandmother, they start a refugee trek to India, leaving behind their loyal and beloved housekeeper, who is also Muslim. Meeting and getting Set in 1947, Hiranandani's book describes the traumatic end of British rule and the Partition, whereby India was divided into two countries. Young Nisha is the daughter of a doctor in what has become Pakistan, where his Hindu religion is suddenly rejected; however, his deceased wife was Muslim, leaving Nisha and her brother Amil in limbo. Along with their grandmother, they start a refugee trek to India, leaving behind their loyal and beloved housekeeper, who is also Muslim. Meeting and getting to know their mother's brother, someone they did not know existed, was nicely done, as was Nisha's cloaked friendship with a neighbor. I did not really care for the diary format of the book, but the message about religious intolerance is strong so I rounded up from 3.5 stars.
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  • Kari
    January 1, 1970
    This was just ok. The diary format didn’t work for me - maybe if shorter entries written to her mother had been interspersed with the story I would have enjoyed it more. The outstanding thing about this book was the setting and time period.
  • Suze Lavender
    January 1, 1970
    It's 1947 and twelve-year-old Nisha lives in a country that's about to be divided. India's independence is near. When the country is being split in two, becoming Pakistan and India, Nisha and her family are in danger. It's no longer safe for them to stay in Pakistan. Nisha and her brother Amil don't exactly understand where all the fighting and hatred comes from. They're half-Muslim and half-Hindu, why can't they proudly tell anyone about that? Instead they have to leave their home together with It's 1947 and twelve-year-old Nisha lives in a country that's about to be divided. India's independence is near. When the country is being split in two, becoming Pakistan and India, Nisha and her family are in danger. It's no longer safe for them to stay in Pakistan. Nisha and her brother Amil don't exactly understand where all the fighting and hatred comes from. They're half-Muslim and half-Hindu, why can't they proudly tell anyone about that? Instead they have to leave their home together with their Papa and grandmother and a long journey on foot is ahead of them. They will encounter many dangers on the way, will they safely reach their destination?Nisha's mother passed away. Nisha has found a way to talk to her though. She writes to her mother in her diary every day. She shares her fears, hopes and dreams. Nisha needs her mother more than ever when she loses her home, has to leave a lot of people she loves behind and needs to say goodbye to everything that used to give her comfort. By telling her mother about her worries Nisha becomes braver and finds the courage to get through the difficult time ahead.The Night Diary is a beautiful impressive story. Nisha and her family have to leave as quickly as possible, because they are no longer safe in a place that was their home for years. Nisha doesn't have a mother and now she's about to lose her house and several of the people she loves as well. That was heartbreaking to read about. She's a strong and resilient girl though. While she's still trying to understand the situation they're in, she needs all of her strength to survive the terrible road ahead. She never complains and I loved how brave she is. Reaching the border is dangerous and it's a long walk. Finding out if she and her family would safely make it kept me glued to the pages.Veera Hiranandani's amazing descriptive writing style makes The Night Diary come to life in an incredible way. Nisha writes to her deceased mother in her diary and can therefore be completely open and honest, which makes it possible to get really close to what she thinks, feels and sees. That makes the story raw and gorgeous at the same time. I loved this structure, it perfectly suits the subject matter. The Night Diary is an absolute must-read. This fantastic thought-provoking book completely blew me away.
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  • Chelsea slytherink
    January 1, 1970
    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
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  • Sherry Guice
    January 1, 1970
    This is an amazing story!!! Told in letters to her mother (who is dead) as a diary, the reader is taken through the history of the division of India into India and Pakistan. Great characters, suspense and adventure interwoven into a story of a family caught in the midst of horrendous cultural/political strife--Hindus against Muslims.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    This book, you guys. Wow. What a treasure. An award contender for sure. I'll be thinking about Nisha for a long time.
  • Sinead Anja (Huntress of Diverse Books)
    January 1, 1970
    Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!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 Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!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.
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  • Sohinee Reads & Reviews (Bookarlo)
    January 1, 1970
    Read The Original Review Posted on Sohinee Reads & Reviews SET AROUND THE 1947 PARTITION OF INDIA, ‘THE NIGHT DIARY’ IS AN EVOCATIVE NOVEL I have read quite a few books on the 1947 partition, have heard stories of partition from my grandparents and I was always left to ponder upon how many lives were affected during this partitioning…too many would be an understatement too. For those who don’t know about the Partition of India, it was when the British Indian Empire was split into two Read The Original Review Posted on Sohinee Reads & Reviews SET AROUND THE 1947 PARTITION OF INDIA, ‘THE NIGHT DIARY’ IS AN EVOCATIVE NOVEL I have read quite a few books on the 1947 partition, have heard stories of partition from my grandparents and I was always left to ponder upon how many lives were affected during this partitioning…too many would be an understatement too. For those who don’t know about the Partition of India, it was when the British Indian Empire was split into two countries, India and Pakistan in August 1947. That is why we celebrate Indian Independence on 15th August. Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League and Nehru who wanted to be the first Prime Minister, both wanted their own countries that they could rule. Both of them wanted their religions to be fairly represented and hence wanted separate places for the Hindus and Muslims; Pakistan for the Muslims and India for the Hindus. So, you could say that this division was a religious division. Around this time, tension started to increase between the Hindus and Muslims and this tension is still carried on in our generations, though its not like before, but it’s still there. There were many political aspects too which I am not going to mention here.‘The Night Diary’ is set around this time of partition when the Britishers finally leave the country and India gains its independence against British rule and is to be separated into two different countries. The book is written in an epistolary format where Nisha, the protagonist of the story, writes to her mother in a journal which she received on her twelfth birthday. Her Mama died during Nisha’s birth, so now, its only her, Papa, her brother and her grandmother. She writes to her Mama everyday and notes down every single incidence. Sometimes she questions her mother if things would have been different had she been alive, she writes to her expressing how her father’s behaviour towards her brother have changed over the years and asks her which side she is supposed to take. She also tells her about the kids who chase her and her brother and bully them. Nisha is innocent and has a lot of questions that are still unanswered even in today’s generation. I used to think of people by their names and what they looked like, or what they did. Sahil sells pakoras on the corner. Now I look at him and think Sikh. My teacher, Sir Habib, is now my Muslim teacher. My friend Sabeen is happy and talks a lot. Now she’s my Muslim friend. Pappa’s friend, Dr. Ahmed, is now a Muslim doctor. I think of everyone I know and try to remember if they are Hindu or Muslim or Sikh and who has to go and who can stay. Nisha’s mother was Muslim and her father is Hindu and this innocent little girl cannot seem to choose between two sides as she is a part of both the religions. Then comes the time when they are supposed to leave their home, cross off the border and find a new home in their new country as they were living in the other country. Nisha expresses her anger on the leaders, writing to her mother that they should have known better.Along with her family, this twelve-year-old had to witness religious riots, people getting killed right in front of their eyes, hoping and praying that they don’t have to see the same fate. Even though fear and tension are in the rise, Nisha doesn’t forget to write to her even in this chaos. She notes down every change she sees with her innocent eyes—the grief, confusion, tension, fear, anger, distress; she writes about the horrors of the reality.Veera Hiranandani has portrayed the characters brilliantly. The characters, especially Nisha has the power to evoke emotions in readers. I could feel all her emotions and I was so sad to see her suffer like that.‘The Night Diary’ is a very powerful book and asks questions that are still left unanswered. Hiranandani’s writing style is lyrical and evokes a sense of grief and misery in the narrative told through the perspective of Nisha.It took me a while to get used to the format of the novel since I haven’t read any epistolary novel before but once I got used to it, I connected to Nisha and FELT what she was going through.Just read it, okay? I am not going to say anything more than that.Recommended to everyone.For more review and bookish posts, follow or subscribe to my blog www.poesyinchrysalis.wordpress.com. For review enquiries and collaborations, write to me at [email protected]
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  • Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars.As a middle grade novel — the main character is 12, so the letters / journal entries that make up the narration has a simplicity of syntax and thought process — I felt this captured the feeling of being a young person and mostly-but-not-entirely understanding what is going on in the world around you. To be fair, Nisha's world is mostly limited to her family: Papa, Dadi (her grandmother), Amil (her twin brother), and Kazi (their cook); the division of India and Pakistan affects her 3.5 stars.As a middle grade novel — the main character is 12, so the letters / journal entries that make up the narration has a simplicity of syntax and thought process — I felt this captured the feeling of being a young person and mostly-but-not-entirely understanding what is going on in the world around you. To be fair, Nisha's world is mostly limited to her family: Papa, Dadi (her grandmother), Amil (her twin brother), and Kazi (their cook); the division of India and Pakistan affects her life, of course, but in a sort of detached way where the cause and effect feel disconnected: the leaders of the country decided newly-independent India should become two countries, Pakistan and India, and they live in the part that is now Pakistan which is meant for Muslims, and Papa and Dadi are Hindu, and people are attacking each other, and it's not safe. So they have to cross the border into the new India.Seeing the world through the eyes of a child (because despite how grown-up Nisha professes herself to be, as an older reader I want to wrap her up in blankets and sit in companionable silence) is always such a wonder-filled experience. The smell and color and texture of spices in the mortar and pestle, the sound of her brother yelling at play, the fear and confusion when violence erupts — it's all so vivid and you can experience it all alongside her. My mouth watered with all the cooking scenes (by the way, there's a glossary in the back for those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine and vocabulary); my heart pounded when things went sideways for their family. And I really felt Nisha's frustration at not being to express herself: although there's no official diagnosis of social anxiety or selective mutism (this is a work of historical fiction, after all), there are several scenes where Nisha struggles to speak out loud to anyone other than her brother, which is an apt representation of the powerlessness some young people feel in the face of adult authority and external circumstances.The story itself can be split into a few distinct sections with some transition in between, which makes it easy to follow and balances out the complex themes which are more implicit than explained. This isn't bad, in fact I think it's characteristic of middle grade; it's just different from what I usually read, so I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. But I did enjoy reading it.content warnings: (view spoiler)[racism & religious persecution, violence, pre-narrative death of parent (in childbirth) (hide spoiler)]rep: (view spoiler)[half-Hindu half-Muslim Indian MC & family; dyslexic secondary character (brother), Muslim secondary character, Hindu & Muslim minor characters, possible selective mutism (or social anxiety) (hide spoiler)]
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from Edelweiss PlusOn the eve of the Partitioning of India in 1947, Nisha is struggling to understand the implications of the end of British rule on her half-Hindu, half-Muslim family, and writes diary entries to the mother who passed away when she and her twin brother Amil were born in order to process events. Her father, a Hindu doctor, feels that the family must leave their town, which has ended up as an area designated to be Muslim. Long time family cook Kazi is Muslim (as was Nisha's E ARC from Edelweiss PlusOn the eve of the Partitioning of India in 1947, Nisha is struggling to understand the implications of the end of British rule on her half-Hindu, half-Muslim family, and writes diary entries to the mother who passed away when she and her twin brother Amil were born in order to process events. Her father, a Hindu doctor, feels that the family must leave their town, which has ended up as an area designated to be Muslim. Long time family cook Kazi is Muslim (as was Nisha's mother), so he will remain behind. Accompanied by their grandmother, the group sets out on foot to walk about 100 miles to the house of the mother's brother. Conditions are horrible, with fighting and violence all around, as well as very little food and water. Amil falls ill, the group is attacked by a man who has lost his family, but they eventually arrive. Nisha is glad to meet her uncle, who looks a bit like pictures of her mother, although he has a cleft palate and does not speak. Once the family is able to settle in Hindu territory, they have a small apartment but are glad to have made it to safety. Strengths: This is loosely based on some of the author's family's experiences, which makes it more interesting to me. I find the Partition to be my second favorite horrible historical event (the first being the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire), and this gave a good overview of the politics, but concentrated on Nisha's experience. There are good descriptions of what it is like to have to walk long distances and survive under horrible circumstances, and the connection with Kazi is sweet. Weaknesses: I can understand why the diary form was employed, but Nisha's longing for her mother slowed the story down. When losing a mother in child birth was fairly common, I don't know that children really dwelt on their loss this much. What I really think: There are a few other middle grade novels that touch on the Partition: Kelkar's Ahimsa, Bradbury's A Moment Comes and Outside In, Senzai's Ticket to India and Venkatraman's Climbing the Stairs. While these don't circulate terribly well, I'm always glad when I can get children to read them, so I will probably buy this one.
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  • Summer
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting book but very slow. It was nice listening to it and the narrator was good but I wasn't in a hurry to pick it up once I put it down.
  • Pavitra (For The Love of Fictional Worlds)
    January 1, 1970
    Also Posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds Disclaimer: A Physical copy was provided via Penguin India in exchange for an honest review. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own. Itsthe year of Partition & Independence – the greed and the selfish needs of the powerful leaders have displaced millions of common men, women and children who instead of celebrating the freedom from oppression had to leavenot only the place they were born but also Also Posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds Disclaimer: A Physical copy was provided via Penguin India in exchange for an honest review. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own. Its the year of Partition & Independence – the greed and the selfish needs of the powerful leaders have displaced millions of common men, women and children who instead of celebrating the freedom from oppression had to leave not only the place they were born but also most of their worldly possessions. But the most severe effect was the fact that every human being came to be identified with their religion. People who were once friends, close like family turned on each other just because their religion and customs weren’t the same.  The Night Diary is the journey of one such family; told in the POV of the daughter – Nisha. Her parents were the exception – her mother, Muslim and her father, Hindu. They married against the society’s wishes, though they lost the mother when Nisha and Amil, her twin brother were born.Nisha and Amil live an almost carefree life – their father is a a well respected doctor in Pakistan and though there are some issues with the kids in school & their relationship with their unapproachable father, life is rosy!Accompanied by their cook, Kazi, a man who is family and their grandmother, they are coasting through life when slowly but surely they start to see dissent, hear whispers and rumours about having to leave their home for the new India and all because their father is a Hindu!Written in Nisha’s POV – this is a fresh and innocent look at a time in our country’s history that is not only rife with religious riots, but also led to the displacement of millions in this country! Nisha’s POV is rife with innocence, confusion and dismay – the changing of  the world as she knows it is jarring and at times difficult to read. This is a book, where the author has done a commendable job of putting forth the agony in the voice of a child who hadn’t yet learnt the cruel reality of the world.   August is India’s Independence Month, and I do believe that this a book that every millennial should read, if only to never forget the blood and gore that lays the foundation of the country we walk free in.   For more reviews visit For The Love of Fictional Worlds :)Do come join us at For The Fictional Worlds Facebook Page | Twitter | Instagram  | Goodreads  | Amazon |
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  • Krutika Puranik
    January 1, 1970
    The Night Diary.•"Do we have to take a side?” I asked. “I think it’s safer. That way you know who your enemy is,” Amil said, and crossed his arms tightly over his chest. “But if we don’t take a side, then we don’t have any enemies.” “I don’t think it works that way,” Amil said." - Veera Hiranandani.•@thereadingwomen spoke highly of The Night Diary and post reading the blurb, I knew I had to get it. I also feel that I chose to read it at a very vulnerable moment what with the Kashmir issue going The Night Diary.•"Do we have to take a side?” I asked. “I think it’s safer. That way you know who your enemy is,” Amil said, and crossed his arms tightly over his chest. “But if we don’t take a side, then we don’t have any enemies.” “I don’t think it works that way,” Amil said." - Veera Hiranandani.•@thereadingwomen spoke highly of The Night Diary and post reading the blurb, I knew I had to get it. I also feel that I chose to read it at a very vulnerable moment what with the Kashmir issue going on. Indians and Pakistanis have been at war ever since Independence. It's like a switch that goes on and off at any given moment. Though we do tend to maintain a certain amount of harmony, a tiny event is enough to spark the rivalry into action. The Night Diary recounts the nightmares that gripped our country post British rule. India split into two and Pakistan was born. Thousands of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were perished as they had to leave their homes. This book is brilliant and can be read by people of all ages.•The entire book is presented in the form of a diary (hence, the title) maintained by a 12 year old girl called Nisha. Nisha has a twin brother Amil, her doctor father and a grandmother who all live together in a part of India which will soon be Pakistan. Nisha is half-hindu and half-muslim and struggles with the idea of having to move from her house. Her mind cannot seem to process the fact as to why people are killing each other while they should be celebrating Independence. Amil and she are harrassed at school by Muslim boys and hence, stop going to school altogether. There's palpable tension everywhere and the pressure to vacate their house. Nisha has a beautiful friendship with their cook Kazi and prays fervently that he comes along with her.•As the family travels by foot for many days, they go through many difficulties in finding water and food. Their journey is painful and filled with brutal murders. The reason why I loved this book was for the innocence of Nisha that oozes from the pages. In her eyes, it all seems so petty. People killing each other instead of being brothers and friends. Nisha manages to show the intensity of hatred that brewed between people for a thing as simple as religion. She addresses all the letters to her mother who dies at childbirth before the children even had a chance to know her. She craves for her mother's love, finding faults in her father and grandmother. It is only later that she realises the subtle ways in which her father displayed his love. Partition is still one of the most saddest events in the history. This book shows the agony that lakhs of people had to go through while leaving behind their whole lives. A stunning book and I strongly recommend it :)Rating - 4.2/5.
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  • Camryn
    January 1, 1970
    This was amazing. I've been trying to read more middle grade lately, and honestly got this because it's a Newberry Honor, but I was sort of putting off reading it because I thought it would be too heavy. And it was heavy at some times. I had tears in my eyes. But I also couldn't stop reading. Like, I instantly felt connected to Nisha. I loved her relationship with her brother. The two of them are my favorites; this sibling relationship is one of the best I've seen in any book and most of my This was amazing. I've been trying to read more middle grade lately, and honestly got this because it's a Newberry Honor, but I was sort of putting off reading it because I thought it would be too heavy. And it was heavy at some times. I had tears in my eyes. But I also couldn't stop reading. Like, I instantly felt connected to Nisha. I loved her relationship with her brother. The two of them are my favorites; this sibling relationship is one of the best I've seen in any book and most of my favorite scenes were between the two of them. I'm in awe of how the author took this really big, multi-faceted event in history that impacted so much and wrote a middle grade book about it (one that's accessible and amazing.) I just... there's so much love in this book, I think, between family and just people in general. I loved all the cooking scenes. There's something that happens toward the end that I think was unrealistic, but I'm not very mad that it happened. In fact, it made me really happy for all of the characters. Anyway. This is so amazing. I really don't have the words to do it justice.
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  • D Dyer
    January 1, 1970
    This is an incredibly approachable work at historical fiction dealing with the partition of India in the latter half of 1947. Nisha is a 12 year old girl, the daughter of a mixed marriage between a Hindu father and a Muslim mother, now deceased. This book is a diary, written as letters to her mother, of her family‘s journey from Pakistan into the new India. It’s a middle grade book and so honestly I wasn’t necessarily expecting the depth of character I found here. But from a father who is both This is an incredibly approachable work at historical fiction dealing with the partition of India in the latter half of 1947. Nisha is a 12 year old girl, the daughter of a mixed marriage between a Hindu father and a Muslim mother, now deceased. This book is a diary, written as letters to her mother, of her family‘s journey from Pakistan into the new India. It’s a middle grade book and so honestly I wasn’t necessarily expecting the depth of character I found here. But from a father who is both deeply caring and at times incredibly distant to a heroin played by an almost painful shyness, the characters in this book are vivid and incredibly detailed. And while the book steers clear of some of the most horrific aspects of partition, it doesn’t spare it’s Young intended audience from the realities and grieves of making a journey as a refugee in the midst of brutality directed at you solely on the basis of religious practice.
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  • Dee Dee G
    January 1, 1970
    Being extremely empathetic, this book had my emotions on high. From racism, having to flee their home, walking for days and days to get to safety, running out of water to drink, etc It’s not graphic formiddle grade reading and packs a big punch. This is the type of book that’s needed today.
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  • Clare Lund
    January 1, 1970
    Filled with gorgeous language and vivid imagery, The Night Diary tells the story of one family after India gained its independence from the British Commonwealth in 1947 and was divided into two countries. Nisha's father is Hindu and her late mother was Muslim, leaving Nisha feeling torn when conflict between the two religions intensifies: "Where do Amil and I fit in to all of this hate? Can you hate half a person?" The home she has always known is now part of newly formed Pakistan, which Nisha Filled with gorgeous language and vivid imagery, The Night Diary tells the story of one family after India gained its independence from the British Commonwealth in 1947 and was divided into two countries. Nisha's father is Hindu and her late mother was Muslim, leaving Nisha feeling torn when conflict between the two religions intensifies: "Where do Amil and I fit in to all of this hate? Can you hate half a person?" The home she has always known is now part of newly formed Pakistan, which Nisha and her family must risk everything to leave. Highly recommend for ages 10 and up.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this historical novel about a young girl and her family forced to leave their home after the partition of India creates the country of Pakistan. It reminded me a lot of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl in the style of writing and I would hand it to kids who are interested in historical fiction or stories of refugees like The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    I cried so much...Definitely Ruta Sepetys for middle grade!
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Reviewed in Horn Book, July/August 2018.
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