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.
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.
Would you like to read The Night Diary?