Glorious. This book is absolutely glorious. I’m so in love right now, I can barely function. This memoir is unquestionable one of the most engaging books I’ve ever read, filled with such greatly vivid and riveting anecdotes, made more profound and unforgettable by the fact that they’re true.
I don’t watch The Daily Show, other than a few occasional clips on social media, and I never followed this guy before, so I decided to read this book solely because of the title. I love it. Born a Crime—it just feels meaningful. And, it is meaningful. I’m walking away from this experience knowing now that I love Trevor Noah. I love his writing and I love his wit. He is a fantastic storyteller who told of his childhood, one that was layered heavily with sadness, but for the majority of the time while reading his journey, I felt joyous.
This memoir is a compilation of notable anecdotes, mixed in with short passages of African history for context against the very special circumstances of Trevor’s birth and childhood. Let me tell you, his childhood is better than any fiction and there are too many humorous and affecting moments to count. Some of my favorites include, the time when a criminal, young Trevor, who was being held prisoner in his Grandmother’s house (for his own good), crawled through a hole under a fence to get to freedom. Then, there’s the time when his first dog, Fufi, taught him his first lesson in love and betrayal. Or, the time when, after growing up on the kind of creative diet that only the very poor are weaned on, Trevor was left completely unimpressed with high cuisine meals such as bone marrow, which are no different or better than the dog bones he ate at home. For more funny and interesting stories, read this book!
Born a Crime begins before his birth, when his impetuous and wise mother convinced her kind, white neighbor to give her a baby, during a time when there were strictly enforced laws that prohibited intercourse between Natives and Europeans. The stories he describe span from that time to the end of Apartheid, and further to a time when blacks and coloreds were free to live the life they could wrangle from the system.
Trevor’s—I’m calling him Trevor because I feel like I know him now. His thoughts on race and power are spot on and made more impressive because of his ability to use humor to show the illogical and ridiculous nature of the whole enterprise. Trevor is very smart, and a very adept communicator. There isn’t a single part of this memoir that doesn’t pierce you, wound you with truths, yet it soothes you with humor. I laughed because it was impossible not to. I laughed so hard that I cried, and then I cried because I had to cry.
Trevor grew up on a divided country, and the numerous poignant moments show clearly a boy caught between the many cultures of South Africa, which he navigated by becoming a chameleon, fitting in everywhere and nowhere at the same time. He adapted to each new situation as many entertainers do, by being whoever the people want them to be. That’s not to say that Trevor is disingenuous in any way; no, he’s observant, and his musings on life and relationships make it apparent that he has a damn good understanding of the human condition.
What is most lovely about his coming-of-age story is how Trevor speaks about his mother. His mom features largely in his story, and his love and respect for her is obvious, not only in his words, but in the actions he describes. Their bond is a tangible thing, and the most moving pockets of this book are the ones filled with his mom.
Honestly, this memoir is so brilliantly insightful that there are many many pages I marked, so many gems and memories I’ve saved to revisit again and again. I don’t read a lot of biographies, preferring fiction to real life, but I’m insanely delighted that I strayed from my norm and read Born a Crime. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, sincerely, because it is truly glorious.
Audiobook notes: Just perfect. Trevor Noah pulls you in with his animated voice and more than brings this story to life.
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.
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.