Rummanah Aasi

Description: 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.

Review: The 1947 Partition of India, which resulted in the independence of India and Pakistan as two independent nations, is one of the bloodiest moments and biggest human migration in world history though there are hardly any written evidence of the event. Hindus and Sikhs were forced to go to newly created India and Muslims to Pakistan. Most stories that I have read about the Partition lean one way or the other depending on which side is telling the story, however, The Night Diary manages to write a non-bias story of the horrors and tragedies of the time.
  Nisha is half Muslim and half Hindu. She 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 colonizers. 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. The Night Diary is a quiet book where we see how each religious factions are impacted by the Parition such as the danger that hovers Kazi as he stays with a Hindu family, Muslim Rashid Uncle who is unable to speak and hides Nisha's family when they cross the border to Pakistan. Nisha's diary entries are introspective as ponders her own place she is a "half", grapples with the themes of family, faith, humanity, and loss. Nisha also touches upon the different warring political ideas of Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah too. The author also does not shy away from the violence experienced from this event whether it is alluded to in a riot exacerbated by rumors and hate or being hold at knifepoint during their dangerous plight as refugees. The book also includes back matter with an author note in which Hiranandani includes information about how her Indian father's experiences influenced this story and provides a glossary of Indian terms.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Violent riots are mentioned in the book and take place off the page. Recommended for Grades

If you like this book try: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai and The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
1 Response
  1. Oh, this one sounds really good. I am currently reading a book set in India so I'll get this one to go along with it.

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