Born A Crime – Trevor Noah


Chosen by Jodie

The memoir of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

✚ “Born a Crime is the true story of a South African boy who starts his life under Apartheid and who feels the effects of the regime throughout his formative years. His childhood is filled with extraordinary events, an incredible mother and an abusive stepfather. Despite the consequences of these factors, the story is one of resilience, especially when one doesn’t have the resources to advance themselves. There were many people in the book who did not thrive, but Trevor’s mother wanted to show her son a different world and a different way of living. She was unique for her time and place; she was a critical thinker who knew how to make the best of situations. Not only was the book entertaining but witty too and I would highly recommend it. ” – Jodie

✚ “I learned a lot reading Born A Crime. I thought the mother was an incredible rock for her son throughout their lives under apartheid. What astounded me was how Trevor lived in no man’s land constantly – not considered black enough to be black or white enough to be white, nor brown enough to be coloured. Trevor opened my eyes to situations I wasn’t aware of before hand. For example I had always thought of the South Arican slums as a mass, not as individual people. But they have hierarchies, and dreams and desires. But Trevor did not want to be a victim and his mother was always educating him even when he didn’t realise; even when he was getting a hiding.” – Becks

✚ “Trevor Noah definitely has an interesting story to tell. However I don’t think his focus was in the right spot. His mother was a remarkable women and a snippet of some of the horrors she endures are offered at the beginning of the book. But it’s not until the end that those stories come to light, all the pages in-between filled with Noah’s petty crimes and childhood antics. This made Noah seem self-absorbed – the story should have been hers not his. Plus the lack of plot continuity created a stop-start effect that interrupted my interest in the story.” – Rachel

✚ “I enjoyed Born A Crime, finding it entertaining and informative at the same time. For me it was a memoir that held a good balance between personal anecdote, social-cultural commentary and historical insight into South Africa and apartheid. I think it was blended well with humour and a little irreverance. I was uplifted by a sense of hopefulness and admiration about the author’s Mum and Trevor Noah himself. It is a read I’ll recommend to others and my kids when they are a little older. A new (to me) view on apartheid and race relations. Humbling” – Sonya

✚ “This story of a South African childhood was witty as well as educational. Trevor dealt with situations that most children would never experience with humour and directness. The book’s chapters were sectioned by themes. It did sometimes feel disjointed with the abrupt stop-start of the themes but it was an interesting way to structure the book, rather than the traditional chronological presentation. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would happily recommend it to a friend.” – Jo


Published 2016
Doubleday Canada
289 pages

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