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The Night Diary
Cover of The Night Diary
The Night Diary
Borrow Borrow
In the vein of Inside Out and Back Again and The War That Saved My Life comes a poignant, personal, and hopeful tale of India's partition, and of one girl's journey to find a new home in a divided country
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.
Told through Nisha's letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl's search for home, for her own identity...and for a hopeful future.
In the vein of Inside Out and Back Again and The War That Saved My Life comes a poignant, personal, and hopeful tale of India's partition, and of one girl's journey to find a new home in a divided country
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.
Told through Nisha's letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl's search for home, for her own identity...and for a hopeful future.
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  • OverDrive Read
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    700
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    July 14, 1947

    Dear Mama,

    I know you know what happened today at 6:00 a.m., twelve years ago. How could you not? It was the day we came and you left, but I don't want to be sad today. I want to be happy and tell you everything. I'll start at the beginning. You probably already know what I'm telling you, but maybe you don't. Maybe you haven't been watching.

    I like turning twelve so much already. It's the biggest number I've ever been, but it's an easy number—easy to say, easy to count, easy to split in half. I wonder if Amil thinks about you on this day like I do. I wonder if he likes being twelve?

    We woke up at a little before seven. Amil and I usually sleep through our birth minutes and then when we wake up, we stand next to the last mark we etched into the wall with a sharp rock. No one else knows it's there. I do it for Amil and he does mine and then we compare how much we've grown since last year. Amil has finally caught up with me. Papa says someday Amil will tower over all of us. That's hard to imagine.

    Papa gave me your gold chain with a small ruby stone hanging from it. He started giving me the jewelry when I was seven. Now I have two gold bangles, two gold rings, small emerald-and-gold hoop earrings, and the ruby necklace. Papa said I should save the jewelry for special occasions, but lately there are none, so I wear all the jewelry at once and never take it off. I don't know where he keeps all of it, but each year on my birthday, another piece appears at my bedside in a dark blue velvet box with gold trim. When you open it, the blue satin lining winks back at you. Papa always asks for the box back after I take out the jewelry.

    Secretly, I want the box more than the jewelry. I want it to be all mine and never have to give it back. I could find any old thing—a pebble, a leaf, a pistachio shell—and put it in the box. Like magic, these things would get to be special at least for a day. Maybe he'll let me have it when your jewelry runs out.

    I want to tell you about this diary I'm writing in. Kazi gave it to me this morning wrapped in brown paper, tied with a piece of dried grass. He never gives me gifts on my birthday. I once read an English story where a little girl got a big pink cake and presents wrapped in shiny paper and bows for her birthday. I thought about the little gifts Kazi gives us all the time—pieces of candy under our pillows or a ripe tomato from the garden, sliced, salted, and sprinkled with chili pepper on a plate. Cake and bows must be nice, but is anything better than a perfect tomato?

    The diary is covered in purple and red silk, decorated with small sequins and bits of mirrored glass sewn in. The paper is rough, thick, and the color of butter. It is not lined, which I like. I've never had a diary before. When Kazi gave it to me, he said it was time to start writing things down, and that I was the one to do it. He said someone needs to make a record of the things that will happen because the grown-ups will be too busy. I'm not sure what he thinks is going to happen, but I've decided I'm going to write in it every day if I can. I want to explain things to you as if I'm writing a storybook, like The Jungle Book except without all the animals. I want to make it real so you can imagine it. I want to remember what everyone says and does, and I won't know the ending until I get there.

    Kazi also gave Amil five charcoal drawing pencils. Five! He also made us rice kheer with our pooris. I'm not sure there is anything better tasting in the world. Amil, who normally eats too fast, makes his pudding last extra long, eating the smallest bites he can. I think he just does it so I...

Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2018

    Gr 5-8-Nisha writes to her Muslim mother, who died giving birth to her and her twin brother, Amil, in a diary she receives on their 12th birthday. Through her diary entries, Nisha documents the changes brought about by India's independence from the British. Nisha and Amil live with their Hindu father, paternal grandmother, and the family's Muslim chef, Kazi, and they must flee their city after independence. Hiranandani creates a world full of sensory experiences: "I ate a samosa. I ate it slowly, savoring the crispy outside tingling with the tart green chutney I dipped it in." Readers see the depth of Hiranandani's characters during the family's walk to the border, particularly Nisha's rarely affectionate father who gently cares for her brother and grandmother. Without contrivance, Hiranandani weaves parallels into Nisha's story-Nisha cooking with Kazi and Rashid Uncle, and Rashid Uncle's inability to speak along with Nisha's extreme shyness. She evenly and powerfully communicates the themes of family, faith, humanity, and loss. In the back matter, Hiranandani includes information about how her Indian father's experiences influenced this story and provides a glossary of Indian terms. VERDICT This rich, compelling story, which speaks to the turbulence surrounding India's independence and to the plight of refugees, should be in all libraries serving middle grade readers.-Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2018
    In 1947, Nisha's beloved country is being torn apart--and so is her family.Nisha and her twin brother, Amil, celebrate their 12th birthday in their beloved town of Mirpur Khas, India, a month before their country receives independence from the British and splits into India and Pakistan. Painfully shy, Nisha, who lost her mother in childbirth and feels distant from her stern father and her elderly grandmother, is only able to speak freely with the family cook, a Muslim man named Kazi. Although Nisha's mother was Muslim, her family is Hindu, and the riots surrounding Partition soon make it impossible for them to live in their home safely despite their mixed faith. They are forced to leave their town--and Kazi. As Nisha and her family make their way across the brand-new border, Nisha learns about her family history, not to mention her own strength. Hiranandani (The Whole Story of Half a Girl, 2013) compassionately portrays one of the bloodiest periods in world history through diary entries Nisha writes to her deceased mother. Nisha's voice is the right mix of innocence and strength, and her transformation is both believable and heartbreaking. Nisha's unflinching critiques of Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah are particularly refreshing in their honesty.A gripping, nuanced story of the human cost of conflict appropriate for both children and adults. (Historical fiction. 11-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 15, 2018
    After introverted Nisha receives a diary for her 12th birthday, she begins to find her voice as she documents her family’s upheaval amid the 1947 Partition of India. Nisha’s journal entries, which are addressed to her deceased mother, take on new urgency as she witnesses India being “split in half like a log” along religious lines after gaining independence from Britain. As the daughter of a Hindu father and a Muslim mother, Nisha questions which side of the Indian-Pakistani border to call her own. But when her family is no longer safe in their home in the city of Mirpur Khas (which became part of Pakistan), they set out for “the new India.” Hiranandani (The Whole Story of Half a Girl) places Nisha’s coming of age against the violent birth of a nation. The diary format gives her story striking intimacy and immediacy, serving as a window into a fraught historical moment as Nisha grapples with issues of identity and the search for a home that remain quite timely. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties.

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Veera Hiranandani
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