Heavy Medal Finalist: THE NIGHT DIARY by Veera Hiranandani
Today’s scheduled post was going to be LOUISIANA’S WAY HOME, but we made a last minute switch: We’ll do LOUISIANA tomorrow (Tuesday), and jump ahead to THE NIGHT DIARY today. Sorry for any disruption this switch causes. Now on to today’s book:
THE NIGHT DIARY is told from the perspective of a 12 year old girl living in India in 1947, when it is about to become independent of British rule. This period in Indian history is filled with violence and bloodshed as Muslim and Hindu leaders decided to split one country into two based on religion. Nisha and her twin have grown up without their Muslim mother who died in childbirth and their father, a Hindu, is a distant figure as he is always at work. The diary spans 4 months during which Nisha’s whole world is thrown upside down as they are living on the wrong side of the religious divide.
The author’s note gives the reader more perspective into the actual historical events that happened in August 1947 when an estimated 14 million people crossed from one side to another according to their religion. The author notes that this story is loosely based on her father’s journey and says that it “is a combination of known history and imagined scenarios to create one possible story that could have taken place at this time.”
The language in this book reflects Nisha’s innocence and the maturity that is thrust upon her as her family attempts to make the journey from Pakistan to India. Nisha’s growth as a character is essential to making this story seem plausible and Veera Hiranandani does an exceptional job at showing that growth in tiny steps and then giant leaps as she faces tragedies she would never have been able to survive at the beginning of her story.
The relationship between Nisha and her twin brother Amil may be the most important aspect to understanding their family’s journey to India and to their adulthood. The two were born minutes apart but appear to be polar opposites even as they support each other. It is not until they are faced with true hardship that the full understanding of their love is seen by the reader. On page 144 the reader sees Nisha collect rainwater in a small bowl
It started to fill up. My throat ached. Then it was full enough for a drink. As much as every cell in my body longed for the few sips it contained, I crouched over Amil.
They might not always agree or go about things the same way but their love for each other fills the divide.
Introduction by Jenn
Please share further comments about THE NIGHT DIARY below, starting with the positive. We will open up discussion to include possible concerns or criticisms later in the day.
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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