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.
These past few months I’ve been meaning to read outside my comfort zone more often so I thought it would be a good idea to add more non-fiction books to my TBR. Born A Crime caught my attention because I had read Hum If You Don’t Know The Words and became really interested in reading about South Africa and Apartheid. I didn’t know Trevor Noah (yeah, sorry!) but I started watching some of his monologues and had a bit of a crush on him. After reading his book, I was completely in love.
Born A Crime was exactly the kind of non-fiction book I’ve looked for all my life. It practically read like fiction and at the same time I learned a lot about the country and its traditions. It was both funny (sometimes hilarious) and sad, because it dealt with some tough topics and, obviously, because of Apartheid. But Trevor Noah has a unique way of telling his story that made me smile with every single chapter.
The book kept me interested during all of Trevor’s journey and, honestly, I would’ve read a hundred pages more. He was honest and fun to read about, he was smart, resourceful and caring, and he made mistakes but acknowledged them afterwards. Based on his memoirs, he seems like a great guy and I would definitely read another book by him.
I liked how he talked about topics like racism and discrimination, I admire his principles and I l mostly loved the way he narrated every anecdote, turning them into a big story and making me care about every small detail he mentioned about his family or his school days. His mother was a fascinating person too and the last part of the book was quite heartbreaking.
All in all, this is my favorite non-ficion book so far and I would definitely recommend it even if you’re like me: mostly a fiction girl.
Spiegel and Grau, 2016