The Night Diary Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-09-08 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 85 user ratings

" An emotional tale from the diary of a young Indian girl living in 1940s India " said.

" Reviewed in Horn Book, July/August 2018. " said.

" I cried so much...Definitely Ruta Sepetys for middle grade! " said.

" Loved this historical novel about a young girl and her family forced to leave their home after the partition of India creates the country of Pakistan. It reminded me a lot of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl in the style of writing and I would hand it to kids who are interested in historical fiction or stories of refugees like The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. " said.

"Filled with gorgeous language and vivid imagery, The Night Diary tells the story of one family after India gained its independence from the British Commonwealth in 1947 and was divided into two countries. Nisha's father is Hindu and her late mother was Muslim, leaving Nisha feeling torn when conflict between the two religions intensifies: "Where do Amil and I fit in to all of this hate? Can you hate half a person?" The home she has always known is now part of newly formed Pakistan, which Nisha and her family must risk everything to leave. Highly recommend for ages 10 and up." said.

"E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

On the eve of the Partitioning of India in 1947, Nisha is struggling to understand the implications of the end of British rule on her half-Hindu, half-Muslim family, and writes diary entries to the mother who passed away when she and her twin brother Amil were born in order to process events. Her father, a Hindu doctor, feels that the family must leave their town, which has ended up as an area designated to be Muslim. Long time family cook Kazi is Muslim (as was Nisha's mother), so he will remain behind. Accompanied by their grandmother, the group sets out on foot to walk about 100 miles to the house of the mother's brother. Conditions are horrible, with fighting and violence all around, as well as very little food and water. Amil falls ill, the group is attacked by a man who has lost his family, but they eventually arrive. Nisha is glad to meet her uncle, who looks a bit like pictures of her mother, although he has a cleft palate and does not speak. Once the family is able to settle in Hindu territory, they have a small apartment but are glad to have made it to safety.

Strengths: This is loosely based on some of the author's family's experiences, which makes it more interesting to me. I find the Partition to be my second favorite horrible historical event (the first being the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire), and this gave a good overview of the politics, but concentrated on Nisha's experience. There are good descriptions of what it is like to have to walk long distances and survive under horrible circumstances, and the connection with Kazi is sweet.

Weaknesses: I can understand why the diary form was employed, but Nisha's longing for her mother slowed the story down. When losing a mother in child birth was fairly common, I don't know that children really dwelt on their loss this much.

What I really think: There are a few other middle grade novels that touch on the Partition: Kelkar's Ahimsa, Bradbury's A Moment Comes and Outside In, Senzai's Ticket to India and Venkatraman's Climbing the Stairs. While these don't circulate terribly well, I'm always glad when I can get children to read them, so I will probably buy this one.
" said.

" Being extremely empathetic, this book had my emotions on high. From racism, having to flee their home, walking for days and days to get to safety, running out of water to drink, etc It’s not graphic formiddle grade reading and packs a big punch. This is the type of book that’s needed today. " said.

"This is an incredibly approachable work at historical fiction dealing with the partition of India in the latter half of 1947. Nisha is a 12 year old girl, the daughter of a mixed marriage between a Hindu father and a Muslim mother, now deceased. This book is a diary, written as letters to her mother, of her family‘s journey from Pakistan into the new India. It’s a middle grade book and so honestly I wasn’t necessarily expecting the depth of character I found here. But from a father who is both deeply caring and at times incredibly distant to a heroin played by an almost painful shyness, the characters in this book are vivid and incredibly detailed. And while the book steers clear of some of the most horrific aspects of partition, it doesn’t spare it’s Young intended audience from the realities and grieves of making a journey as a refugee in the midst of brutality directed at you solely on the basis of religious practice." said.

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