Night Diary – book review

The Night Diary
by Veera Hiranandani
Historical Fiction
Juvenile Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Nisha and her twin brother Amil (12 years old) become refugees when their country gains its independence from British rule in 1947 and is split into two nations – India and Pakistan.  Because she and her family (father, grandmother, and brother) are considered Hindu (even though Nisha and Amil’s mother was Muslim) they must leave the home they have always known and cross the border into the new India, where, hopefully, they will be safe from the violence that is erupting all around them.  Nisha narrates their story through her diary entries, which she writes to the mother she has never known (their mother died in childbirth).  Their journey is difficult and made more so when Amil accidentally spills most of their water, which they desperately need to cross the arid land that separates them from the border.  The children don’t really understand why there is suddenly so much hatred between peoples of different beliefs/religions, especially since everyone got along well enough before.  Their anger and confusion and fear are realistically portrayed, as is the uncertainty of their survival.  A thoughtful work of historical fiction about the partition of India for a younger audience that may know very little about this time period/event.  The audio edition is beautifully read.

Reviewed by YA Librarian