Review: Born a Crime

Review: Born a CrimeTitle: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Author(s): Trevor Noah
Genre(s): Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 288 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Play Book Tag
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Synopsis from Goodreads

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.

My Thoughts

I read Born a Crime because the topic for this month for my Goodreads PBT group is Autobiography and because Trevor Noah is one of my favorite comedians.

Born a Crime was a very fascinating read. I learned a great deal about South Africa and the apartheid. Truth be told, until I became familiar with Noah as a comedian, I didn’t know his existence was a crime during the apartheid.

I honestly found Noah’s childhood interesting to read about because of not only how he was treated, but also because of the experiences he had as well. It amazes me how much he was considered an outsider in his own community because his skin was lighter than others. And, I thought it was interesting that language often helped him bridge the gap between his peers; he was only accepted because he was a “chameleon” and could speak their language as well as they could.

While reading Noah’s memoir, there were times I was laughing in stitches, at other times I was in shock and disbelief, and yet other times I was angry at the injustices he witnessed and experienced. I know I’ve lived a very sheltered life, but I’ve never realized how easy my life has been until reading some of these experiences.

I’m glad I took the time to read Born a Crime. It opened my eyes to the atrocities of the world in other areas than just in European and American history. I now realize that while the Holocaust was a horrible time in the world, it’s not necessarily the worst thing that has happened. It all depends on your point-of-view and many of the world’s atrocities are glossed over still because people don’t want to take responsibility for the part they or their ancestors played in slavery or racism because it’s still very much alive today.

6 replies
  1. Ali
    Ali says:

    I had such a similar reaction to this book. His writing style was compelling–he kind of grabbed you by the collar and sucked you in and didn’t let go until the end. Childhood Trevor was shockingly naughty, I hope there is a statue of limitations because he should have been in jail way more than once! And the Hitler part… Wow. Like you is never realized how European-centric my knowledge of the world is. Applying it to current events is almost overwhelming, but hopefully in a way that compels me to do more and get outside myself. I forgot how many feelings I had while reading this–thanks for reminding me.

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help you remember. And, yes, agreed on all you said. It makes me want to do better and make sure that these injustices don’t continue to go unnoticed more so than I did before.

  2. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I love learning about things I had no idea happened. It makes me sad that I’m so clueless but at least I learned about it.

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      Agreed. I always feel bad or sad that I didn’t know something as significant as this before as well, but at least I learned about it and I’m trying to better myself. 🙂


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