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Blog 1: The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Kara Gumke

The elegance of this book is captured before you even open it. The cover shows 8 arms stretching out towards one another, each wearing a bracelet representing a different South Asian religion. There is a separate arm resting on the bottom of the page, holding a pen that has written the title of the book, trailing through the middle in large cursive lettering.

“The Night Diary.”

This story is told through the journal entries of a young 12-year-old girl living in India in 1942. Her name is Nisha. The journal she writes in is given to her on the birthday she shares with her twin brother by her father, and it eventually becomes her outlet in telling her story. I think that one of the reasons this book is so amazing is because of how well the balance of Nisha’s character was written. Veera Hiranandani effortlessly portrayed the young mind of a 12 year old girl combined with experience earned maturity and wisdom.

It becomes obvious throughout the novel that Nisha struggles to find her voice. She finds that words slip out of her reach when she is faced with a stressful situation, and when interacting with new people. She is able to find her voice in the journal entries that she addresses to her mother, who died during childbirth.

During the time of her childhood in 1942, India had just recently won independence from Britain. However, it hardly feels like a celebration for Nisha. As India is divided into two countries, The new India, and Pakistan, she and her family are forced to leave the only home they’ve known to escape the violence that now surrounds them as people flood the boarders.

Nisha struggles immensely with her identity. With both sides of her family being different religions, she can’t help but feel uneasy with everyone seeming to pick sides. And worse, expecting her to. I love how the internal conflict is expressed in this way. it made Nisha’s character relatable, and real.

One of my favorite parts of this book were how vividly everything was written. The images that come to mind are the food that Nisha writes about in her journal. She cooks with their home’s chef, who is a great family friend as well. They make dishes like aloo tikki, a fried potato patty made with onion and spices. The way the food is described made me want to try all of these interesting dishes. I could almost smell the cardamom and saffron used in the Kheer.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a story that will transport them to another world. Veera Hiranandani created a beautiful story of journey and self discovery, and how the toughest circumstances can teach you the most about yourself.