I consider myself outspoken. I love to talk and use the voice I was blessed with.
So, reading this book about a girl practically the opposite of me was really interesting. It’s never been hard for me to ask a question, but Nisha from The Night Diary saw the world much differently. Reading this book really felt like I was stepping into someone else’s shoes… and traveling to 1947.
Author Veera Hiranandani creates a moving, unique tale about figuring out who you are.
On the day Nisha turns 12, she is gifted a diary, where she writes about her life in the midst of India partitioning into two countries, Pakistan and India. “It feels scary to talk, because once the words are out, you can’t put them back in. But if you write words and they don’t come out the way you want them to, you can erase them and start over,” Nisha pens in the diary.
In The Night Diary, Nisha doesn’t talk to anyone other than her brother, and living in the ‘40s where women’s rights still weren’t considered as human rights, it was probably safer for her to keep her mouth shut than to say something she might regret. Even now, I think some girls can relate to how Nisha feels. I hope this book can encourage them to speak up for themselves. Their opinions, thoughts, and ideas matter. That’s why her diary is so valuable to her.
Because their family is Hindu, they have to go to the “new” India and take a risky journey, even though Nisha’s mom was Muslim. Nisha never met her mom because she died giving birth to Nisha and her twin brother, Amil. So Nisha’s diary has “Dear Mama,” to begin every entry, as she spills her heart out to the woman she never met. Nisha does not want her family to forget about her mother’s legacy.
Some of the themes of this book are hope, and persisting even when your goal is so far away you can’t see it. There is also a message of unity, because religion is what divides people in this story, and there is a lot of anger and fury over this one difference.
I loved this book because the characterization was really beautiful, especially Nisha’s character. I felt myself hurting for Nisha, and anxious when she did something dangerous. I also cheered her on throughout the book. Seeing her thoughts written out in diary/letter form also helped me connect to Nisha even more.
I recommend this book to ages nine to 12. This story is based off of a true historical event in India, and the author’s father actually experienced the partition. There are a few graphic scenes like a man holding a knife to Nisha’s throat, and a lot of physical fighting. If you enjoyed Ahimsa, you will love The Night Diary.
Four out of four roses!