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The Night Diary

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In the vein of Inside Out and Back Again and The War That Saved My Life comes a poignant, personal, and hopeful tale of India's partition, and of one girl's journey to find a new home in a divided country

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.

Told through Nisha's letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl's search for home, for her own identity...and for a hopeful future.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published March 6, 2018

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About the author

Veera Hiranandani

18 books378 followers
Veera Hiranandani is the author of THE NIGHT DIARY, THE WHOLE STORY OF HALF A GIRL, and the chapter book series, PHOEBE G. GREEN. She has an MFA in fiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College and spent six years as a book editor. She now teaches creative writing at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York with her family. She is working on her next novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,634 reviews
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews713 followers
January 31, 2019

(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!

Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,164 reviews2,231 followers
May 11, 2022
This book is so damn good!
My heart got cut open; my tears could not stop till the last page.
And I couldn't leave out a word. Yes, it is that good.
The writing style is mesmerizing, simple and full of emotions.
The story has been fictionalized as is mentioned by the author at the end of the book based on the real life events that happened during the time of partition in 1947.
It is so beautifully written that I became aware of my own life so many times while reading the lines feeling so grateful about being here being able to read this book with all the comforts of being alive.
I broke down many a times; had to stop myself from reading now and then in order to ease the pain I felt while reading the painful journey of survival faced by the family.
I just cannot talk about the story and the characters without choking up. So I am leaving out that part.

This short book makes me feel grateful to acknowledge that if there's water we can drink anytime, a morsel of food we can enjoy anytime anywhere or do not have to run away to another country on foot during the night watching our whole family struggling to live, our lives are still blessed and yes, I feel there's nothing wrong in being grateful about small and big things in life. It's hard to believe but such mundane things that we take for granted are still the most precious things for someone who's struggling somewhere in such a scenario.

Well even if the book is not written in any way to preach about what I have just written above, this is the kind of book that makes us feel about such things while reading it and makes us want to appreciate the things we take for granted.

I feel the most important message that the book tried to convey is the importance of family and found family.

The characters are so well developed and the family dynamics is represented well.

Kudos to the author.
Easily one of the best reads.

Such a small book but leaving such a huge impact!

And yes, that cover is so damn relevant!
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
695 reviews3,259 followers
September 6, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,121 reviews17.7k followers
March 28, 2021
“Goodbye, old India.”

A friend of mine recommended this to me since I’ve been wanting to read more middle grade.

It’s a story about a 12-year old, dealing with the loss of her mother through writing letters to her. Amidst the normalcy of her life, things are slowly starting to change in the political sense and Nisha and her family are forced to leave and cross the border to find a place to call home.

It talks about the 1947 Indian partition and these children belonging to both countries as their mother was Muslim and their father is Indian. They weren’t so much of an outcast in society then but as they’re being forced to move, their identity comes into play. They don’t know where they belong.
This got hard to read at times. You are reading about how just over a million of people lost their lives due to the partition and children seeing things they have no right to see. You see her worldview changing from the innocence all children possess to having her reality altered and she deals with it by noting down her experiences to her mother who she very much keeps alive in her heart.

Though it’s fictionalised, parts of this story are very much real. The audiobook narrator captured the story perfectly.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,622 reviews5,062 followers
March 6, 2020
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. This little book really deserves a full review, but sadly, I didn't write it as soon as I finished reading it, and I don't feel like I can do it justice this many months after the fact — and since it pained me a little too much to commit to rereading it, I'll just say you should 100% check it out, look at some other (more thorough, and preferably own-voices!) reviews, and I absolutely recommend the audiobook if you can read it that way!

"If you were alive, would we have to leave you because you are Muslim? Would they have drawn a line right through us, Mama?"
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,606 followers
February 11, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,484 reviews189 followers
April 24, 2021

Well that was a really well written and emotional middle school novel.

I knew very little about this huge forced migration of so many people during the creation of Pakistan. On finishing I spent quite some time reading about the partition and how awful life was for the many displaced people on both sides of the divide. Nisha's story is so raw as it is told through letters to her mother who had died when she was a baby. It feels like quite a harsh story but it is appropriate for middle school students with an adult available to discuss any of the more challenging moments. It really was a heart-warming story about the strength of family and I thoroughly recommend it.
Profile Image for Geo Marcovici.
1,217 reviews292 followers
July 3, 2019
Translation widget on The blog!!!
Un roman care ne predă o lecție de istorie așa cum nu o găsim în manuale. O lecție de viață despre dezrădăcinare, despre o călătorie plină de pericole, despre durere și neputință. Dar, este o lecție și despre curaj, despre forța de a merge înainte, despre acceptarea că destinul se joacă cu viețile oamenilor. Prin ochi de copil învățăm despre maturizare și despre împărțirea sufletului în două. Un roman care ne vorbește despre India și Pakistan, despre hinduși și musulmani, despre perioada August 1947.
Recenzia mea completă o găsiți aici:
Profile Image for Josiah.
3,211 reviews145 followers
February 19, 2023
Veera Hiranandani had a curious career trajectory leading up to The Night Diary. She'd written at least one easy reader as a licensed commission for Ian Falconer's hugely successful Olivia picture book series, as well as a modestly well-received middle-grade novel (The Whole Story of Half a Girl, published 2012), and the cuisine-centric Phoebe G. Green series of early chapter books. The Night Diary was her first work of historical fiction, and earned Ms. Hiranandani a 2019 Newbery Honor. Never had the cultural strife of 1940s India been written about for kids with such clarity and emotional resonance.

Nisha and her twin brother Amil have just turned twelve the summer of 1947. They live in the city of Mirpur Khas, on a large estate reserved for the local doctor and his family. Papa invests most of his time tending to patients, leaving Nisha and Amil to be supervised by their grandmother (Dadi), but the family has access to almost anything material they want; medical treatment is valued everywhere in the world, and Papa is one of the best. Mama died in childbirth with Nisha and Amil, but for Nisha's twelfth birthday Papa gives her an ornate diary, and as she writes in it daily, she finds herself addressing the entries to her departed mother. Did Mama love Nisha and Amil, though they caused her death? How did she and Papa feel about each other, and does he resent his kids for the loss of his wife? Nisha aches to meet her mother face to face and pose these questions, but when she writes each day's events in her diary, she feels a bit closer to Mama, as though they are indirectly touching souls.

The fact that Mama was Muslim and Papa a Hindu isn't a major factor in Nisha's life, but she ponders it more often as religious tension surrounds India's latest political drama. The British, colonial rulers of India for centuries, are finally relinquishing control, and internal arguments are on the rise as to how the transition should go. Densely populated by Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, India has had little trouble as a melting pot of diverse religions, but anger boils over as these factions grapple for the upper hand in this important world region. Some politicians angle for peace at any cost, while others seize the opportunity to forward their own cultural interests. Nisha is unnerved by the hard feelings crackling in the air like lightning before a storm. Strangers knock at the door and argue with her father at all hours of the night; Papa increasingly worries as the momentum of public opinion carries India closer to a permanent geographic and religious split. Nisha adores Kazi, the family cook; Nisha isn't supposed to assist him with his job, but she loves preparing food, and Kazi always has a twinkle in his eye when he lets her help. Kazi is a devout Muslim, which has never bothered Nisha's family, but Papa cautions that if India divides into two countries, Kazi may no longer be allowed to live with them. Why should Nisha lose a member of her family because strangers are opposed to Hindus and Muslims under the same roof?

On midnight of August 15, Partition officially takes effect, and Nisha's situation changes in a blur of action. It grieves her that Kazi is required to stay behind and mind the house for whatever Muslim family moves in next, but the land Nisha's family lives on is no longer part of India, and they have to flee before violence overtakes them. Papa, Dadi, Nisha, and Amil pack as few belongings as possible, prioritizing food and water, before hitting the long trail to Rashid Uncle's home about fifty miles away, halfway to India's new border. Rashid Uncle is a mystery to Nisha: did he object to Papa and Mama's marriage as most of her Muslim family did, willing to disown her rather than accept their interfaith relationship? Is that why Nisha had no idea Rashid Uncle lived so close all these years? Nervous thoughts buzz in Nisha's brain as she lugs her water, food, and precious few personal items on the migration toward India, but there are more pressing issues than whether Rashid Uncle will accept them into his home. Hordes of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs are crossing the land both directions, and the heavy press of hot bodies in the desert is affecting people's tempers. Fresh water is hard to come by; Nisha's throat burns like flame, her thoughts going wonky as her body screams for liquid, but Amil's condition is worse. Even skinnier than she is, his body reacts badly to dehydration. The danger that Amil and then the rest of the family will die before finding water is very real. Are they going to forfeit their lives because of a land dispute? Are they mere hours from reuniting with Mama and having answers to the deep questions of Nisha's heart?

From the lap of luxury to walking a trail of torment, Nisha's existence has morphed into a nightmare. Bloodshed erupts between Mirpur Khas and Rashid Uncle's house as Hindus and Muslims murder each other in broad daylight. Such hatred never manifested before Partition divided India and Pakistan, one country for Hindus and the other for Muslims, so why are the two groups suddenly unable to coexist? Even at Rashid Uncle's house, assuming he doesn't turn Nisha's family away, they won't be able to stay long. Hindus aren't welcome in Pakistan, so Nisha's family will have to hope nobody notices them until they refresh their supplies for the second half of their journey to the Indian city of Jodhpur. Papa's medical skills will be prized anywhere he goes, so if they can make it to Jodhpur, Nisha's family can rebuild their prosperous life. At this point she'd settle for Papa, Dadi, and Amil just surviving, but there are many hardships to surmount before they're home free within India's borders. Will Nisha ever recover from her bloody trek to a new homeland?

Potent and wise, The Night Diary explores a greater number of relevant issues than I can expound upon in this review. Nisha and Amil are twins, but each inherited a unique set of traits from their parents. Nisha physically resembles her father and loves to cook like him, but has difficulty expressing her emotions in words. She can't speak at all in front of strangers, which is why her only real friend is Kazi, the cook. Nisha feels pressure to make her few words matter, and that pressure keeps her silent even when she longs to voice the feelings filling her up inside. How will she ever again feel safe speaking with others after the trauma of her travel to Jodhpur, where she witnesses horrors that most adults never see? Amil is naturally less serious than Nisha, but Papa treats him harshly. Whereas Papa pleads for Nisha to speak her mind, Amil is too candid for their father's liking. The boy is a gifted artist but dislikes to read, claiming the words jump around on the page when he looks at them. Papa thinks that's a pathetic excuse to avoid schoolwork, but Amil is just as happy ignoring the printed word and improving his art skills. Amil is Papa's scapegoat when he and Nisha dabble in mischief; Papa pretends Nisha had nothing to do with it, focusing his ire on Amil, who shrinks under the disapproval even if it's impossible to keep him contrite for long. The migration to Jodhpur tests and reveals the emotional bonds between Nisha's family members as the growing likelihood of Amil's death forces Papa to face losing his son. The richest moments of this book are the flickers of unspoken understanding when we see how Nisha's family truly feel about one another.

Life never feels perfect, no matter how good you have it. Only in retrospect do we look back on particular times and see how comfortable we were, how well our needs were met even as we exaggerated small problems into big ones. That's what Nisha realizes when her quiet, affluent life evaporates into poverty and despair. Losing Kazi, losing the sentimental possessions they keep to remember Mama, and losing their material wealth are bitter pills to swallow, but history can be a pitiless crucible. "Sometimes the world as you know it just decides to become something else. This is our destiny now," Papa says before the family evacuates Mirpur Khas. When your world reshapes itself without warning, what option is there but to hope a kind of normality someday returns? That's all Nisha has to moor her sanity to. She can't figure out why Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs are suddenly killing each other; did redrawing India's border somehow addle their minds? Papa has experienced enough of life to have an idea why the situation has deteriorated. "He 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." A diverse citizenry can usually live at peace unless they become conditioned to view out-groups as targets for resentment. When social, racial, religious, or political brokers whip their followers into a frenzy for tribal warfare, people adopt the notion that coexistence is an evil that must not be tolerated. The social fabric rends irreparably, and civilization decays. Be wary of stirring up acrimony against ideological out-groups; The Night Diary shows the tragedy that follows disintegration of respectful societal discourse. Nisha will never be the same after what she saw en route to Jodhpur. As she writes in her diary, "I had never seen anyone kill before. It has changed me. I used to think people were mostly good, but now I wonder if anyone could be a murderer. Who was the first one, Mama, the first to kill when they decided to break apart India?" War tears the mask off humanity, exposing our depraved nature we're so good at hiding. Anyone is capable of evil, and that's a disturbing revelation for those who wish to believe humans can overcome our problems via good will and intentions. May Nisha not be disheartened by this truth, but use it as a reminder to deliberately resist her own dark side as she spreads compassion to a world in need of youthful positivity. It's the best way to turn the tragedies surrounding Partition into a better tomorrow for herself, her family, and India.

There are so many insights to glean from The Night Diary. Consistently friendless, Nisha meets a girl a few years younger than herself on the road to Jodhpur, but she's forbidden to interact with Hafa because the girl is Muslim. Why should they be barred from contact because their families don't agree on religious tenets? Is it fair that Nisha be denied her first real friend because society might object? Life is awfully short and marred by pain to not have friendship; you never know what you'll miss when a relationship is prevented from blossoming. The Night Diary is splendid, worthy of the 2019 Newbery Honor it won, and I'd probably rate it three and a half stars. Veera Hiranandani's first serious work of historical fiction is a total victory, and I hope other young readers are nourished by it as I was.
Profile Image for Nhi Nguyễn.
964 reviews1,217 followers
September 13, 2020
Năm 1947, Ấn Độ giành được độc lập từ đế quốc Anh. Nhưng đồng thời, nước Ấn Độ thống nhất của ngày xưa cũng không còn nữa, mà bị chia thành hai quốc gia: một bên là Ấn Độ của đa phần người theo đạo Hindu và Sikh, phía bên kia là Pakistan của người gốc Ấn theo Hồi giáo.

Nisha là một cô bé ít nói, sống nội tâm và gặp khó khăn trong việc diễn đạt những suy nghĩ của mình thành lời. Mẹ em là một người Hồi giáo, đã qua đời sau khi hạ sinh em và người em trai song sinh Amil. Trong khi đó, cha em là một người theo đạo Hindu. Vào ngày sinh nhật lần thứ mười hai của Nisha, em được tặng một quyển sổ nhật ký, là phương tiện để Nisha gửi gắm vào đó những tâm tình mà em muốn nhắn gửi đến người mẹ đã khuất của mình - người mẹ mà em chưa bao giờ có cơ hội gặp mặt.

Giữa bối cảnh rối ren của sự chia rẽ về tôn giáo, Nisha cùng em trai, cha và bà nội của em đã phải dấn bước vào một hành trình đầy gian lao và nguy hiểm để rời bỏ vùng đất Mirpur Khas - giờ đây đã thuộc về phần lãnh thổ của đất nước Pakistan - và di cư về Jodhpur - nơi mà những vị lãnh đạo tối cao của hai tôn giáo cho rằng người Hindu như cha em phải thuộc về. Cuộc sống yên bình của ngày xưa, khi những con người vốn từng thuộc về một lãnh thổ Ấn Độ thống nhất chưa nhân danh tôn giáo để phân biệt, đàn áp và giết hại lẫn nhau đã không còn nữa. Giờ đây, Nisha cùng gia đình của em đã phải đối mặt với thực tế phũ phàng, với sự bạo tàn và cực đoan của loài người gây nên sự chia rẽ sâu sắc đến mức không thể vãn hồi, và thậm chí sự chia rẽ ấy vẫn còn đến ngày nay.

Đặt trong bối cảnh và thời kỳ chia rẽ tôn giáo sâu sắc đó ở Ấn Độ, “The Night Diary” đã dùng chính câu chuyện đặc biệt của Nisha để chứng minh cho độc giả thấy việc chia rẽ tôn giáo và giết hại lẫn nhau nhân danh tôn giáo là phi lý và tàn nhẫn đến như thế nào. Nisha cùng em trai của mình là Amil được sinh ra từ tình yêu của một người phụ nữ Hồi giáo và một người đàn ông Hindu; các em không thuộc về một phe nào cả. Bên trong các em là sự kết hợp của cả hai nền văn hóa, hai tôn giáo của cha mẹ các em, nhưng rồi những người lớn đứng đầu quốc gia mà các em đang sống, rốt cuộc lại bắt các em phải lựa chọn phe phái. Rốt cuộc họ lại đẩy những đứa trẻ thơ ngây, trong sáng và vô tội đó cùng hàng ngàn những đứa trẻ khác và gia đình của các em vào cảnh màn trời chiếu đất, phải đối diện với đói khát và hiểm nguy để thực hiện hành trình tị nạn mà lẽ ra, nếu người lớn không cực đoan đến mức gây chia rẽ vì tôn giáo như thế, thì các em đã không phải trải qua một trải nghiệm kinh hoàng đến như vậy. Những gì Nisha ghi trong nhật ký như một cách đối thoại với người mẹ đã khuất của mình đã nói lên sự phi lý của những gì đang xảy ra tại Ấn Độ và Pakistan ở thời điểm đó:

“But here is the question that is most on my mind. I’m afraid to say it, even afraid to write it down. 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? I don’t care what the answer is. We came from your body. We will always be a part of you, and this will always be my home even if it’s called something else.”

Ở những đoạn sau của cuốn tiểu thuyết, chi tiết Nisha muốn kết bạn với một cô bé người Hồi giáo nhưng cha em không cho, vì sợ cô bé ấy sẽ khai ra gia đình ông - một gia đình Hindu - đang lẩn trốn trên lãnh thổ của Pakistan - một lần nữa thể hiện sự tương phản giữa hành động chia rẽ tôn giáo một cách cực đoan mà người lớn đang thực hiện, và tâm hồn ngây thơ, trong sáng, tràn ngập yêu thương của một cô bé với kh��t khao duy nhất là được kết bạn, là có được một người bạn để cùng sẻ chia, bất chấp người bạn ấy có khác biệt với em như thế nào.

Đặt trong bối cảnh lịch sử mang tính bước ngoặt của Ấn Độ và Pakistan, “The Night Diary” lựa chọn cách truyền tải thông điệp của mình thông qua hình thức là những dòng nhật ký tâm tình của một đứa con gửi đến người mẹ đã không còn trên cõi đời của mình. Cách truyền tải này mang đến một sự riêng tư và gần gũi nhất định, tương phản với bối cảnh lịch sử chung mà rất nhiều gia đình như gia đình của Nisha đang trải qua, giúp câu chuyện vẫn duy trì được tính sử thi, nhưng đồng thời cũng dễ dàng chạm đến trái tim người đọc. Nhất là khi tác phẩm đi sâu phẩm đi sâu vào việc miêu tả tình cảm của một đứa con dành cho người mẹ của mình, cùng mong muốn được kết nối với mẹ, dẫu bà đã qua đời. Đây là một yếu tố mà có lẽ ai trong chúng ta cũng có thể đồng cảm và thấu hiểu được.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,701 reviews129 followers
September 13, 2020
It’s a truly outstanding book. It is about the separation of India into two parts. This separation was as a result of religious differences between the Hindus and the Muslims.

It is chilling how it reminds me of the same type of religious conflict that we see today. Hundreds of thousands died, it caused a tremendous amount of disruption and resulted in refugees camps to sprout up.

A very good book
Profile Image for Faroukh Naseem.
181 reviews171 followers
February 10, 2020
The most intriguing takeaway for me while reading this book is that you don’t need an adult narrator or a very intelligent sounding narrative to make a point and garner empathy towards people who have suffered atrocities.
#theguywiththebookreview presents The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Review contains inconsequential spoilers
Quick summary is that our protagonist is a 12 year old girl with a twin brother, their mother died while giving birth to them. They live with their father and grandmother. The girl decides to write letters to her mother every night before sleeping. She starts this a few days before the Partition of India on 15th August 1947.
Some of you might not be aware about the partition, so here’s a brief from Wikipedia: “The partition of India in 1947 was the division of British India into two independent dominion states, the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The Union of India is today the Republic of India; the Dominion of Pakistan is today the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh.”
The core idea behind the existence of Pakistan is that Muhammad Ali Jinnah believed that Muslims will face oppression at the hands of Hindus and so a separate country is ideal for Muslims. (Please note I am giving the briefest possible reasoning and have not included all details)
Coming back to the book, Nisha, our protagonist is a very quiet girl and keeps to herself. Her daily joys including helping the family cook in prepping food. Her twin is a dyslexic boy who has trouble reading but is good at drawing. Their father is a busy doctor and their Grandmother mostly spends her day praying. Their mother was a Muslim and their father is Hindu. It isn’t socially acceptable to have interfaith marriages so they were outcast by society.
The way Veera has written the book, you will very soon forget that this is a fictional piece and start feeling that you’re actually reading letters from a child who has written these for her dead mom.
The naivety in the girls voice is clear and you will feel an urge to try help her understand where she’s going wrong and how real life is so much more complicated than she believes it to be. There are harrowing moments in the second half of the book when it gets very intense and you will want to keep reading letter after letter to know what happens next.
The book does not delve into the political details and touches only on the effects of it on people. This makes it easier to empathize and understand that at the end of the day we’re all humans and all we really want is to live in peace with the ones we love.
I’d recommend this as a great starting point for those who have only heard about the partition in bits and pieces. It is a very fast book to go through, a weekend of relaxed reading should be more than enough.
If you enjoyed this review, please find more on Instagram at (at)theguywiththebook for more bookish talk!
Profile Image for Cititor Necunoscut.
454 reviews81 followers
July 2, 2019
Am scris noaptea in jurnal este versiunea simplificata si sensibila a unui eveniment dureros din istoria Indiei si Pakistanului. In 1947 s-a decis impartirea Indiei in doua state diferite, unul pentru hindusi si unul pentru musulmani, ceea ce a dus la dislocarea a cel putin 14 milioane de oameni, care au trebuit mutati conform credintelor lor religioase, cu voia sau fara voia lor. In haosul creat, violentele au izbucnit si aproximativ 1 milion de oameni au fost ucisi.

Nisha este o fata de 12 ani, orfana de mama, cu multe anxietati, cu un frate geaman cel mai probabil dislexic, din ce descrie ea, fiica unui doctor, care incearca sa inteleaga ce se petrece in jurul ei. Cum vorbele ii vin greu cand trebuie sa le rosteasca in fata oamenilor, Nisha incepe sa scrie un jurnal, pe care il adreseaza mamei ei, care murise dand nastere gemenilor. Nisha trece prin multe greutati in drumul lor spre noua casa, unde vor fi alaturi de alti hindusi, iar felul in care descrie totul te sensibilizeaza si te face sa intelegi evenimentele dincolo de statistici si date oficiale.

Aceasta carte seamana mult cu Trandafirii din Mexic, insa actiunea transpusa intr-o alta parte a lumii si este mult mai trista.
Profile Image for Andrea.
755 reviews31 followers
January 7, 2023
A compelling story that will introduce younger readers to concepts surrounding the partition of India in 1947. Contains descriptions of violence, death and near-death.

On her 12th birthday, and the 12th anniversary of her mother's death, Nisha begins writing in a diary that was given to her as birthday gift by the family's beloved cook, Kazi. Her diary entries take the form of letters to her Mama.

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. I'm not sure what he thinks is going to happen, but I've decided I'm going to write in it every day if I can.

And so she does. Life in the city of Mirpur Khas is pretty good for Nisha and her twin brother Amil. They are comfortably well-off thanks to their father, who is a doctor at the local hospital. And although he is a distant parent, the twins receive abundant love and care at home from Kazi and their grandmother, Dadi. At school Nisha is the academic one, but lacks friends, and Amil is the opposite.

Kazi's prescient words begin to make more sense to Nisha within just one short month, as religious division and conflict become more pronounced in their city, and finally Papa is forced to admit that the time has come for them to leave. He explains partition to his children as best he can, but they struggle to understand about 'taking sides', as they have always understood the marriage of their Hindu father to their Muslim mother to have been a loving and harmonious union. If they are half Muslim, why can't they stay? And what will happen to Kazi, who as a Muslim will be left behind?

Travelling by train and on foot, the family of four will flee across the brand new border from this new country called Pakistan to Jodhpur in the new India, stopping to rest just before the border crossing with Rashid Uncle, a relative they have never before met.

Although this is a great story and a worthwhile read, I got off to a slow start because I wasn't loving the diary format. However I can see that it would have been a useful device for the author. I just wish it had been broken up with some straight narrative from time to time. In any case, I got used to it, and the second two-thirds of the book flew by.

Interestingly, I read another middle-grade book on the same topic a couple of years ago (Ticket to India) which was almost a DNF for me for reasons I explained in my review. The Night Diary is a far superior book, and one that I would recommend.
Profile Image for Kari.
705 reviews27 followers
December 20, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Karen Witzler.
470 reviews153 followers
July 26, 2020
Very good YA look at the immediate aftermath 0f the partition of India. This is historical, yet fearfully relevant to our present global crisis, with so many children having experienced that same dark road that Nisha and Amil were forced to travel in 1947.

Some violence. Good for ages 10 and older. A hopeful ending and treads lightly enough that it may be a good read even for present- day children who have experienced similar harrowing ordeals.

Particulars of this story: Nisha is a diarist and a good cook. Her twin Amil is an artist. They live in what is now Pakistan with a Hindu father and grandmother. Their deceased mother was a Muslim. Lots of kitchen details. The Mahabharata and and its warring families are mentioned. The family must undertake the refugee road and train journey to Jodhpur across the new border. Basic history of the event is alluded to in the names of Jinnah, Nehru, Mountbatten.

(Oh, we need a Mahatma for the world in this moment.)
Profile Image for ดินสอ สีไม้.
884 reviews118 followers
August 18, 2021
เป็นวรรณกรรมเยาวชนที่ทำให้เราแห้งผาก ทุกข์ตรม ปีติ

และในอีกบางเรื่องที่เคยอ่านจาก "เถื่อน 7" ของวรรณสิงห์
ตัดสินกัน โทษกัน และโยนความผิดให้กัน
รู้สึกว่ามันกำลังคืบคลานไปหาจุดจบเช่นนั้น .. อย่างช้าๆ
Profile Image for Ann☕.
291 reviews
September 27, 2022
"I want to know who I can blame, Mama, for the nightmares that wake me up every night now. It must be someone’s fault. Maybe I’ll blame everyone."

Finally a historical fiction Newbery Award nominee published within the last ten years, that is worthy of the distinction.

Nisha is half Muslim on her mother's side and half Hindu on her father's side. When Great Britian grants independence to India in 1947, many years of tensions between the different religious groups erupts into violence and the country is divided into (New) India and Pakistan. Amid the turmoil Nisha and her family must flee the only home she has ever known. Nisha's thoughts and experiences are recorded in a series of letters to her mother.

I enjoyed the epistolary format. The story, along with the characterization, kept me completely engaged. The book is serious but also hopeful. My plan was to listen to this on audio but the ebook was available sooner. Unlike some bloated historical fiction novels that include way too many superfluous details, this one was spot-on and just the right length.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars
Original Publication Date: 2018
Recommended Reading Audience: middle grade, young adult and adult.
Profile Image for halfirishgrin.
288 reviews178 followers
January 4, 2018
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!
Profile Image for Sandra Deaconu.
657 reviews102 followers
May 7, 2019
Mie mi-a plăcut tare mult, de la scriitura simplă, dar emoționantă, până la toate personajele care au emanat atâta căldură și bunătate. Pe mine m-a dus cu gândul la Trandafirii din Mexic. Nu spun că ar fi una inspirată din alta, pentru că vorbim despre evenimente diferite. În plus, ambele sunt inspirate din viața unei rude de-ale autoarei. E doar o coincidență funestă că războiul, indiferent de locul și cauza lui, este un adevăr comun pentru atâția oameni. Însă au fost multe elemente similare care m-au încântat la fel de mult în ambele romane: perspectiva unui copil asupra vieții, bătrâna sleită de puteri care nu încetează să-și aline nepoții, demnitatea părintelui rămas în viață, inocența copiilor care ar vrea doar să se joace în noroi, fără să știe că a fost cândva pământul cuiva și a ajuns așa după ce a fost îmbibat cu lacrimi și chiar sânge. Dacă o judecați, să țineți totuși cont că este adresată adolescenților, chiar dacă poate fi citită la orice vârstă, ceea ce și recomand. Recenzia aici: https://sandradeaconu.blogspot.com/20....

,, - Trebuie să fim de partea cuiva? l-am întrebat eu.
- Cred că așa ar fi mai prudent. În felul ăsta, știi cine ți-e dușman, a spus Amil, încrucișându-și brațele la piept.
- Dar dacă nu trecem de partea nimănui, atunci nu avem dușmani.
- Nu cred că merge așa, a răspuns Amil.''
Profile Image for Rida Imran .
217 reviews142 followers
Want to read
August 10, 2018
The cover is beautiful. Being from Pakistan while I've heard a lot of partition stories, I've never read any..
Profile Image for disco.
559 reviews221 followers
June 1, 2021
It feels scary to talk, because once the words are out, you can’t put them back in. But if you write words and they don’t come out the way you want them to, you can erase them and start over.
Profile Image for Mirai.
397 reviews96 followers
March 7, 2020

เมื่อ "ณิชา" ได้รับสมุดบันทึกเป็นของขวัญวันเกิด เธอจึงเริ่มบันทึกเรื่องราวในชีวิตประจำวันเพื่อเล่าเรื่องเหล่านั้นให้แม่ของเธอที่เสียไปแล้วฟัง แต่ใครจะไปรู้ว่า สมุดบันทึกธรรมดาๆ เล่มนี้จะบันทึกเหตุการณ์ที่อินเดียแบ่งแยกดินแดนกับปากีสถานไว้ด้วย

ครั้งแรกที่รู้จักเล่มนี้ เราคิดว่าบรรยากาศเรื่องน่าจะคล้ายกับบันทึกของแอน แฟรงก์ ที่บันทึกเหตุการณ์สำคัญแบบคนผู้ประสบเหตุโดยตรง โทนเรื่องคงเศร้าๆ และเริ่มหดหู่ลงเรื่อยๆ อะไรทำนองนั้น แต่สำหรับเล่มนี้ มันไม่เศร้าขนาดนั้นค่ะ อ่านแล้วยังรู้สึกถึงความรักและความหวัง รู้สึกถึงกำลังใจที่เกิดขึ้นท่ามกลางความขัดแย้ง และมีความน่าติดตามอยู่ในตัว

ณิชา เป็นเด็กผู้หญิงที่เกิดในช่วงที่อินเดียกำลังจะได้รับการประกาศอิสรภาพจากอังกฤษ แต่แทนที่เธอกับครอบครัวจะได้ใช้ชีวิตอย่างเป็นอิสระอย่างแท้จริง กลับต้องเผชิญกับความขัดแย้งภายในกันเอง โดยมีต้นตอมาจากความแตกต่างทางศาสนา

ณิชา เป็นเด็กผู้หญิงที่ไม่ค่อยพูด (และค่อนไปทางไม่พูดเลยมากกว่า 555) แม้เธอจะมี "อมิล" น้องชายฝาแฝดของเธอ แต่ก็ไม่ได้ทำให้เธอเปิดใจพูดสักเท่าไหร่ สมุดบันทึกเลยเป็นหนทางเดียวที่ณิชาใช้เพื่อระบายความรู้สึก โดยมี "แม่" ที่เสียชีวิตไปแล้วเป็นเหมือนตัวแทนที่คอยรับฟังเธอ ณิชาสร้างภาพของแม่ที่เธอไม่เคยรู้จักให้เป็นเหมือนแม่ที่รักยิ่ง แม้ยิ่งโตเธอจะยิ่งรู้ว่า แม่ในชีวิตจริงกับแม่ที่เธอจินตนาการเอาไว้จะแตกต่างกันก็ตาม

เนื้อเรื่องเริ่มต้นที่วันเกิดของเธอ และสมุดบันทึกก็เป็นของขวัญวันเกิดที่เธอได้จาก "คาซิ" พ่อครัวกึ่งๆ พ่อบ้านคนสนิทของครอบครัว เพราะเธอเป็นคนพูดไม่เก่ง เธอเลยเริ่มจดบันทึกลงสมุด จากชีวิตธรรมดาๆ ของเด็กวัยเรียนในครอบครัวที่แสนอบอุ่น ก็เริ่มเกิดเหตุการณ์ประหลาด เริ่มมีการแบ่งพรรคแบ่งพวก มีการทำร้ายร่างกายกันและกัน และสุดท้ายก็นำไปสู่การที่บ้านไม่ใช่บ้านของเธออีกต่อไป เธอและครอบครัวจึงต้องเริ่มออกเดินทางเพื่อกลับ "บ้าน" ทั้งๆ ที่บ้านที่แท้จริงของเธอ คือบ้านที่เธอจากมาต่างหาก

ณิชาเป็นตัวละครน่าสนใจของเรื่องเลยทีเดียว เป็นเด็กที่ไม่ได้เกิดท่ามกลางความขัดแย้งอย่างเดียว แต่เป็นเด็กที่อยู่ "กึ่งกลาง" ของความขัดแย้งด้วยซ้ำ เธอเป็นเด็กช่างสังเกตและชอบตั้งคำถามด้วยความใสซื่อ แต่แต่ละคำถามทำเอาทั้งครอบครัวเธอ รวมไปถึงคนอ่านอย่างเราๆ สะอึกใช้ได้ 55555

สรุปคือ เป็นวรรณกรรมเยาวชนที่ดีอีกเล่มนึง เนื้อเรื่องไม่หดหู่เท่าไหร่ อ่านได้เรื่อยๆ แต่ก็วางไม่ลงเช่นกัน เหมือนอยากรู้ตลอดเวลาว่าณิชาและครอบครัวจะไปจบกันที่ไหน และความขัดแย้งนั้นจะพรากคนที่เธอรักไปหรือไม่
Profile Image for Nav (she/her) &#x1f327;.
141 reviews19 followers
September 8, 2018
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!

This 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.

- 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.

- 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 thoughts
The 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!
Profile Image for Skip.
3,246 reviews394 followers
March 19, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Suze.
1,878 reviews1,311 followers
March 16, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,499 reviews187 followers
February 20, 2019
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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