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The Night Diary

The Night Diary

Book - 2018
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Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.
Publisher: New York, NY : Dial Books for Young Readers, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780735228511
Call Number: j HIRANANDA 2018
Characteristics: 264 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary. Own Voices

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JCLAngelicaR Nov 26, 2020

"Sometimes the world as you know it just decides to become something else. This is our destiny now." Sounds painfully familiar? Whether it's a pandemic or a civic disaster - it's a big test for humanity in all of us. The story is based on the real historical event - the partition of India in 1947. Just like Nisha's family, the author's father, a young boy at that time, had to migrate to a newly defined India with his family. Hiranandani creates an authentic atmosphere full of aroma of Indian food, mixed with the emotional turmoil and family love. This gripping story of survival told through the diary that twelve-year-old Nisha writes every night to her deceased mother, will find a very special place in your heart.

Oct 22, 2020

The Night Diary is an absolutely fantastic book and it is now one of my favorites. It is set in 1947 when India gained independence from British rule and is split into two republics, India and Pakistan. It happens because of tensions between Hindus and Muslims but Nisha, our protagonist, is both. Her father is a Hindu and her mother was a Muslim. Of course, since her mother is deceased, she is now only known as a Hindu. This book focuses on her thoughts and feelings which she writes down in her diary as letters to her mother every night. She writes down how she feels about all the change India is going through, about leaving a part of her behind, and about the journey to her new home. Nisha is just another girl who’s trying to figure out who she is and where she fits into this world, which I’m sure a lot of people can connect to.

A book that I think is similar to this is Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I can’t say you can compare this book to any of the documentaries or movies about India’s independence because that’s not the main focus of this book. It’s more about the personal experience of Nisha which is what makes it so unique and riveting.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Sometimes I like to hold onto my upsets, like if I let them go, I’m admitting they weren’t that important”. I really agree with this one because sometimes I also feel that I want to hold onto my upsets; because otherwise, I’d be admitting to a loss. My other favorite quote is “It’s just that some people are better at being than others.” I love this quote just because of how simply it’s stated, even though it’s such a deep thought.

Overall, I would rate this book 4.5/5 because I love how the author conveyed Nisha’s feelings and how easy it was to understand all the characters and situations. I simply enjoyed being able to comprehend Nisha’s thoughts and connecting with her. Reading the book was a fascinating and wonderful experience, which I would highly recommend to anyone who’s even slightly interested! Go for it, you will not regret this decision!

Sep 08, 2020

This is the kind of book that needs to be taught in schools because history is more than just dates and maps. This shows the experience of the people who lived it and it needs to be shared. I loved this book, but it was also hard to listen to, as it should be when such atrocities are done. I applaud the writer.

RR_Prof Aug 25, 2020

A beautiful book with heartbreaking content. Racism told through the eyes of a child, I found the section where Nisha describes her own changing views "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."
As the story progresses, and Nisha's family must find safety in the new India, leaving Pakistan, new definitions for friendships and family are created.

Apr 17, 2020

When India is partitioned in 1947 to form a new, separate country named Pakistan, Nisha and her family are uprooted. Because they are Hindu, they are no longer welcome in the only home she's ever known, and it has become too dangerous to stay. Told through letters to her mother who died when she was born, Nisha describes their dangerous, clandestine and unforgettable journey across the border. This middle-grade novel is a memorable and poignant bildungsroman about an event I knew next-to-nothing about. Recommended.

Tigard_HollyCP Dec 14, 2019

It’s 1947 in India, or actually, what is soon to be Pakistan. In this epistolary novel, 12-year-old Nisha writes in her diary to the mother who died the day she and her twin brother were born. Nisha and Amil live with their Hindu father (Papa) and grandmother (Dadi) and their Muslim cook (Kazi) who is actually more like family than an employee. Partition is happening, and she has no idea what that even means. (To be honest, I need to know more about world history, because I didn’t, either). India is gaining independence from Britain, and Indian leaders have decided it would be safer for India to split into two countries and separate the Muslims to Pakistan, and Hindus, Sikhs and everyone else to India. So Nisha and her family (minus Kazi) are forced to leave what was once their India to the new part of India where they are allowed. The story is rich in history and character development. From her descriptions, I’m guessing that Nisha has selective mutism and Amil has dyslexia. The story was inspired by the author’s father’s experiences during Partition. Lovely, sometimes intense and sad, story by an #ownvoices author. Highly recommended for upper elementary and middle school.

Gina_Vee Nov 30, 2019

I liked this book. I could relate to it because I started journaling right around the same time as Nisha, the main character of the story. The difference is I started journaling years after my own migration versus Nisha starting shortly before her own. I love the fact that the book is a historical fiction novel on a history somewhat tied to my own that I've never explored or known.

Oct 30, 2019

BL 4.5

Apr 23, 2019

Two things about this book were a little meh for me: the epistolary format, and seeing world events through the very limited perspective of a twelve year old who doesn't read the news.

What I liked: all the food descriptions, the main characters, the depictions of (dis)ability and grief, the way the plot doesn't shrink from the difficulty of partition but also doesn't turn it into Sorrow Porn or sensationalize Nisha's experiences.

Overall, this is a great book for introducing kids to historical fiction, to keeping a journal, and for discussions around loss and change.

Jan 01, 2019

Veera Hiranandani shows us the turbulent historical period of the Partition of India from the perspective of a young girl, and well balances details of this event and Nisha’s personal thoughts, ideas, and struggles. Her pacing and storytelling is wonderful, and although she keeps the story real, she also keeps it hopeful. Nisha’s story is told with enough detail that readers with little or no knowledge about the Partition of India can understand it, yet the story is still interesting and coherent.

I appreciated how Veera Hiranandani shows us how Nisha recognized the changes in her world, and her wondering what it might be like if things were different, if her mother were alive, or if she could still see people and not try to figure out if they were Muslim or Hindu and if they could stay or had to go.

The Night Diaries is epistolary, written as a series of letters by Nisha. Although I don’t always like stories written in letters, I think this format was a good choice for this story. It allows the author to share details and Nisha’s thoughts and feelings that help us understand her and her time better without feeling like the story is being interrupted.

If you enjoyed Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, or The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley, you will like The Night Diaries. While targeted toward children, The Night Diaries should interest anyone who likes learning about historical events, likes to get to know a character, and appreciates outstanding storytelling.

-Grace @

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WVMLlibrarianShannon Jan 30, 2019

WVMLlibrarianShannon thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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