Born a Crime

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Born a Crime

Stories from a South African Childhood

I am on a quest to read more diverse books to widen my knowledge about other life experiences and "Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah was suggested to me by my local library.

This book goes back and forth between sections. First there is a section, in a different type font, that has historical/current information about laws and life in South Africa. Then it switches back to author’s personal stories that connect to the previously mentioned social and political climate of his country. At first seeing the two types of fonts wasn’t appealing to my type A personality but now I understand it was done for dramatic effect and it was done well.

Even though this book was about Trevor Noah’s life, I truly believe these stories were written out of love for this mother. She is an amazing woman who has endured many injustices. This was an opportunity for a son to use his fame as a platform to tell the world her story.

It was hard to picture that the same person who has his own successful television show in the United States of America was born a crime in South Africa but I suspect that was kind of the point of the book.


Book Blurb for Born a Crime

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 stories 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.


Night Owl Reviews Jan, 2017 4.00