Review of The Night Diary

The Night Diary
by Veera Hiranandani
Intermediate, Middle School     Dial     267 pp.     g
3/18     978-0-7352-2851-1     $16.99

In 1947 India, the only place half-Hindu, half-Muslim twelve-year-old Nisha feels that she has a voice is her diary. She addresses every entry to Mama, who died when Nisha and her twin brother Amil were born. The diary becomes a lifeline when Nisha’s family (considered Hindu) is forced to leave home after the Partition of India, implemented on August 14–15, 1947, suddenly places their city of Mirpur Khas in the newly created Muslim state of Pakistan. Hiranandani has flawlessly rendered a world-altering historical event through the eyes of a sensitive and perceptive child, providing enough detail for readers who may not be familiar with the events while keeping focus on her protagonist’s sadness over her mother’s death, her struggle with shyness, and her frustration with adults’ baffling motives and behavior. Hiranandani doesn’t shy away from depicting some truly frightening episodes along Nisha’s arduous journey (for example, when she is threatened at knifepoint), but she does so in a voice that is faithfully pitched to an upper-intermediate and middle-school audience. The detailed author’s note and glossary will entice young readers already captivated by Hiranandani’s pitch-perfect tone to more deeply explore this complicated and bloody period of history.

From the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Jennifer Hubert Swan
Jennifer Hubert Swan is director of library services and middle school librarian at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City. She is also a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute School of Information, where she teaches youth literature and library programming. She blogs at Reading Rants.

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