The Night Diary

by Veera Hiranandani

When Nisha and her twin brother Amil turn 12, Nisha receives a notebook from her... read more

When Nisha and her twin brother Amil turn 12, Nisha receives a notebook from her family’s beloved cook, Kazi. She uses it as a diary, writing entries in the form of letters to her mother, who died when the twins were infants. Observant, sensitive Nisha is an excellent writer, but anxiety makes it difficult for her to speak. India has recently been freed from British rule, and when tensions among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs erupt in her hometown of Mirpur Khas, Nisha fears for her family’s safety. Nisha and Amil’s mother was Muslim, but their father and grandmother are Hindu, putting them at great risk when their part of India becomes Muslim Pakistan after Partition. Nisha observes that her “childhood would always have a line drawn through it, the before and the after.” Forced to leave their comfortable life—and Muslim Kazi—behind, the family flees on foot, setting off across the desert for the “new India,” with only a few jugs of water in hand. They encounter many dangers on their harrowing journey, only to arrive at a place that is not home, and where they have nothing but one another. Nisha effectively communicates not only the profound pain of loss and separation faced by this family during a tumultuous period of Indian history, but also the comfort of learning how to express love and gratitude for one another. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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