Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African ChildhoodBorn a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
on November 15th 2016
Pages: 304
Published by Doubleday Canada
Genres: Memoir, Multicultural, Non-Fiction, Short Stories
Goodreads

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

My Takeaway

“My mom did what school didn’t. She taught me how to think.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

This phenomenal and fascinating memoir gets all the stars and all the love! Noah’s candid and humorous storytelling completely captivated me from beginning to end. Noah grew up during the tumultuous end of apartheid. Through poverty and other extremely challenging circumstances, his fearless and mighty mother was always by his side. Early into reading Born a Crime I realized his mother was a tremendous influence in his life. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself cheering for this courageous and astounding woman (think Dora Milaje warriors, but with a bible). There’s a particular part in the book where I almost lost it! If you’ve read the memoir, I’m sure you know exactly which part I’m referring to. I cannot praise this book enough – and I am not the only one! There’s a reason this memoir became a #1 New York Times Bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year by them and many more. Not surprising, the memoir will be adapted into a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o as Noah’s mother. Nyong’o will also produce the film with Noah through his production company, Ark Angel Productions. Can’t wait!

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