Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy.
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.
The Night Diary is a compelling novel that follows the life of Nisha and Amil. Two siblings who mourn the loss of a mother they never got the chance to know. The book is written from the perspective of Nisha. It is written in the form of a diary. Nisha writes about her day at the end of each day, she recaps her favorite moments and shares her thoughts. Nisha is a quiet girl with an immense amount of intelligence; she only speaks when she feels it is crucial. Amil, her brother, is the complete opposite. He is a free-spirited, outspoken, artist who fears nothing but the idea of not being able to be creative. Both siblings live in a large house in India while their father works as a doctor at a local hospital. In this home, they have a servant, and their father’s mother lives with them. In the days leading up to India gaining its independence from the British, turmoil is evident. As communities pick sides, families become divided, and this once safe place will become unsafe for this mixed family. Their home is now Pakistan, and they must leave to avoid being killed. This family must journey long and far to get to a safe place. They will face many challenges and hardships along the way. The only hope for these young souls is to get to a place where they can be safe and get to a moment where their father is free-spirited again. Will they survive the long journey? How far is their father willing to go to protect his family?
The author did a fantastic job with this novel. I enjoyed every moment of this book and enjoyed learning a bit more about the challenges faced by those born by both Hindi and Muslim parents. I have a History degree and love a good historical fiction novel. I have to say that this book made me cry. I completely understand the struggle of losing your mother and mourning the loss of a relationship with a parent you never knew. I may start my diary because of this book. I enjoyed the internal monologue that Nisha had with her mother and the connection she felt to her brother. The author built Nisha into a strong character, and Amil serves as her support. Both siblings struggle and cope with loss differently. Not only are they mourning the loss of their mother but the loss of a connection to their mothers family as well as the loss of the person their father used to be. I commend the author for doing such a great job with this book. I recommend this book to any youth between middle school age and high school. The book focuses on resilience, strength, determination, family, and fighting for what you believe. There are numerous life lessons in this book, and it also encourages youth to get a glimpse of the challenges faced by youth in other countries.
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