Amil and the After

Amil and the After
Age Range
Release Date
January 23, 2024
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At the turn of the new year in 1948, Amil and his family are trying to make a home in India, now independent of British rule.

Both Muslim and Hindu, twelve-year-old Amil is not sure what home means anymore. The memory of the long and difficult journey from their hometown in what is now Pakistan lives with him. And despite having an apartment in Bombay to live in and a school to attend, life in India feels uncertain.

Nisha, his twin sister, suggests that Amil begin to tell his story through drawings meant for their mother, who died when they were just babies. Through Amil, readers witness the unwavering spirit of a young boy trying to make sense of a chaotic world, and find hope for himself and a newly reborn nation.

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1 review
Much anticipated sequel
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Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
In this sequel to The Night Diary, we get to follow the family as they settle in India after being forced to leave Pakistan. Amil, who doesn't do particularly well in school but loves to draw, doesn't keep a diary the way his twin sister Nisha does, but draws scenes of the family's new life as a way to stay connected to the mother he never knew. Kazi is still cooking and taking care of the family, but after the horrible journey to Bombay, is now considered more of a family member. Dadi misses her home terribly, and this has a bad impact on her health, since she is sixty. While the father is working in a hospital as a substitute for another doctor, he is a little worried that he won't be hired on permanently, and that the family will have to move again. Amil struggles with the feeling that while he should feel lucky that all of his family survived and they are now in a good place, he sometimes feels trapped, or unhappy, or wants something, like a bicycle. When he meets Vishal, he admires the boy's ability to draw, and trades his classmate parts of his lunch in exchange for drawing instruction. When he starts to suspect that Vishal doesn't have enough to eat, he starts to bring more food, and the two become friends. Vishal lives in a refugee camp, and has no family of his own. Amil brings him home to wash up, and lends him clothing, but the family's position is still too precarious to take in another person. When Dadi falls and breaks a hip, she spends time in the hospital. At one point, Kazi goes to the hospital to get news, and doesn't come back for some time. It turns out that he has met a teacher from Pakistan and helped her out. Things are very bad in India, and there is concern that Mahatma Ghandi might starve to death during one of his fasts. Vishal returns to the camp, but when he doesn't come to school, Amil is concerned enough to go to find him. Vishal is very sick, and Kazi and Amil's uncle Ashok get him to the hospital. Amil is worried that he might cause his father to loose his job in his attempts to save his friend, but in the end, everything works out fairly well, and Amil even gets a bicycle that he has been coveting.

Good Points
There are so many displaced children in the world right now, and I wonder how many of them feel the way that Amil does? Certainly, there are displaced children in horrible circumstances, but how many of the ones who have food, clothing, and shelter are still harmed by their trauma and struggle when they have small desires that make them feel guilty? In addition to covering a rare moment in history (1948 India), this has a lot of good thoughts about how to treat people who are different from you, how to help others, and how to deal with being a tween in less than ideal circumstances. Readers who followed Nisha's journey will be very glad to see what has happened to her and her family. Amil's drawings in the book will also appeal to readers with an interest in art.

This was a riveting look at life after Partition, and I can't think of any other books that really cover this resettlement. I'm a big fan of books set in India, especially when there are lots of good descriptions of food, and love Hiranandani's How to Find What You're Not Looking For, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, and her Lunch Will Never Be the Same series.
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