Rating: 4 / 5
THE NIGHT DIARY by Veera Hiranandani was one of the discussion book picks for the Reading Women Podcast’s July theme on the Partition of India. This is a subject that I am very lacking in knowledge on, so it was one that very much interested to read along. Being a middle grade reader on the subject, THE NIGHT DIARY seemed a great place to start.
THE NIGHT DIARY is written from the perspective of a twelve year old girl named Nisha in 1947. India is newly independent from British rule and the country is being divided along religious lines into Pakistan and India. People who were once friends and neighbors are now divided, many having to leave behind their homes and nearly all of their belongings, traveling long distances to their new country. There is a lot of tension with trigger warnings for violence and religious persecutions.
Nisha is half-Muslim and half-Hindu. Her mother died when she and her twin brother were born. The book was written in the form of Nisha writing letters to her mother in her journal, chronicling the lives of the family. Nisha’s father determines that he and the family must make their way out of Pakistan to India. Leaving with only what they can carry, they travel first by train and then on foot among other desperate refugees.
Seeing this story from the eyes of a child gives it a very interesting perspective. Nisha has a mixed background and parents who didn’t feel that their religious differences should interfere with love. Unfortunately this is not the general feeling of everyone around them and they are in danger throughout their journey. They face difficult travels, a lack of food and water and an uncertainty of what lies in their future.
This was a very eye opening novel which was beautifully written with more depth than I expected from a middle grade novel. I would say that this was definitely a book that is on the mature end of the middle grade spectrum in that it tackles some difficult subject matter. For myself, I am looking forward to reading and learning more about this area of history.