Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Published: 2016 by Doubleday Canada

Pages: 304born a crime

Genre: Non-Fiction (Autobiography)

Date Read: August 21-22, 2018

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Publisher’s Blurb: 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.

The Author: Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, television and radio host and actor. He currently hosts The Daily Show, a late-night television talk show on Comedy Central

My Thoughts: I have been a fan of Trevor Noah since I discovered him on television and I think he is a fantastic comedian. A friend of mine told me about this book and how she was laughing her head off reading it so I immediately ordered for a copy cos I wanted to have the same experience even though I am strictly a fiction girl.This wasn’t totally the case when I actually read the book. Yes it was hilarious but it was more of dark humor for me as I was at so many points shocked at the things that took place during the apartheid era in South Africa. I loved his love and relationship with his mother and admired her courage to break barriers even in the harsh environment. Most times she seemed more like a friend to him but when she was a mother, she was a great one giving him tough love and advise like – I quote,  “I know you see me as some crazy old bitch nagging at you, but you forget the reason I ride you so hard and give you so much shit is because I love you. Everything I have ever done I’ve done from a place of love. If I don’t punish you, the world will punish you even worse. The world doesn’t love you. If the police get you, the police don’t love you. When I beat you, I’m trying to save you, when they beat you, they are trying to kill you”. That was pretty intense and I hope to sit my teenage daughter down and say exactly this to her so she understands why a mother does what she does to keep her children safe. I grew up thinking I knew a lot about how the black South Africans suffered under apartheid, I even joined South African students in secondary school (Some were sent to school in Nigeria) to sing freedom songs, I mean I watched the movie about Nelson Mandela too but little did I know that I barely knew the real struggles black South Africans faced. Trevor Noah’s story is an eye opener for me on different levels. I now have great empathy for black South Africans and the Zenophobia issues facing them (though there is no excuse to kill another human being) and I feel like I know them, I feel their pain and their struggles even today. I am now really pumped up to visit South Africa and I am hoping I would get the opportunity to do so soon. I highly recommend this book to all my friends, get a copy and enjoy.


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