The Night Diary
by Veera Hiranandani, published 2018
“We would go somewhere fresh and new where people were happy. All kinds of people practicing all kinds of religions..[where] nobody would mind that you were Muslim and Papa was Hindu….”
At first, I was not going to add a review for this children’s book. Not because of the writing style – it is very well written, poetic at times, and very insightful. But I wasn’t sure about the content. Again, not because it is unimportant – it is extremely important to understand the effect that the partition of India in 1947 had on the lives of both Muslims and Hindus, tearing the country into parts that have never mended. But is this why children read books? This children’s book is no lightweight journey from one home to another. It’s a heart-wrenching, honest look at the violence and hatred that erupted, simply because now there were “them” and “us.”
Why am I reviewing it then? Because on reflection, the same thing is happening today, again, and again, and again. I don’t know what it will take for this to end. But perhaps one more children’s book, pointing out how ridiculous the enmity based on religion is, could change one person’s heart. I don’t know. But there you have it. This is a difficult but well-written children’s book about the eternal problem of judging others based on religion or race.
I can’t say any more other than to say if your family has Indian heritage, this is definitely worth reading. If your family has mixed races or religions, this is a helpful book. If your classroom is studying India, ditto. If you want to confront the insanity of prejudice, here’s a way to do it. This book is not for everyone, but it would be a disservice for me to leave it off of the website just because it is difficult to read this and not weep. Ages 11 and up.