The Night Diary- Veera Hiranandani

Penguin Random House

Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

This book is set around the time of the Partition of India in 1947, a topic I know very little about. I saw this as an opportunity to learn more about the events through the eyes of the book’s main character. The story is told in a gripping and understandable way and now that I’ve read it, I feel that I know a lot more than I previously did.
As I began reading, I discovered something about the style in which it is written. The story is told through a series of letters by a young girl called Nisha to her mother, who died giving birth to her. These letters play a key role both in the story, and in explaining Nisha’s character. The contrast between the comfort she finds in writing, and her difficulty communicating verbally, is still relatable today.
As the plot unfolds we see the themes around the partition emerging. This starts with Nisha overhearing grown-ups talking about things she doesn’t understand, commenting eloquently on Nisha’s youthful naïveté and preparing us for how that will change throughout the novel. As Nisha and her brother Amil learn about the already growing separation in the land, the two face bullying as people are recognised not for who they are, but for their religion. 
It is heartbreaking to watch good, innocent characters that you have grown attached to begin to lose themselves to problems out of their reach.
The mood changes swiftly from a saddening confusion and fear to raw chaos and uncertainty. As Nisha is half-Hindu and half-Muslim we follow her struggle to find a sense of identity, and a home for her family. Her journey is filled with discoveries about herself and she learns more about her mother than she ever thought she would learn. This quick and brutal transition from her quiet, naïve childhood to the pain and stress of being a refugee is something that greatly impressed me about this book, it speaks truthfully about the way major changes occur and the ways we try to deal with them
I learned a lot from the story of Nisha and her family, about the Partition of India and how it affected young people, and about other large changes that happen around us every day. 
This book, though enjoyably and beautifully written, is necessary to read if only for the knowledge and the messages that it conveys.