Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Published by: Double Day Canada
Publication date: November 15th 2016
Genres: Autobiography, Humor, Race
“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”
I was super excited when I finally saw this in a bookstore as I’m a huge fan of Trevor Noah and I was really interested in learning more about his South African heritage as apartheid isn’t something I knew very much about. Going into this book I expected to laugh a lot and to learn a lot and let me tell you: I was not disappointed.
“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.” I loved the insight into how Noah tackled the negative afteraffects of apartheid as a young colored person. By learning multiple tribal languages within his country, Noah was able to connect with people from all walks of life and really bridge the gap between cultures. “Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says “We’re the same.” A language barrier says “We’re different.”
Having grown up as a third culture kid (meaning I grew up in a culture different to that of my parents), I really connected to Noah’s feelings about growing up and not always feeling welcome in your own country. It’s a point of view you rarely get to see in literature or film and I really appreciated it.
I also really loved how he expressed that women held the South African communities together. The entire book really focuses on the impact his mom had on his life and all of her triumphs against where she started. I think it’s really important for the significance of women in society to be highlighted, especially by men. The importance of women is written across the pages of this book with such definition, it’s empowering. “Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!” “When you strike a woman, you strike rock.”
There are some pretty hilarious stories in here from Trevor Noah’s teenage years (such as the one of his break dancing friend, Hitler) but there’s also some really difficult to digest moments that he retells for us. I learned so much through reading this book, not only about Noah, but about racial identity, politics, history and language. Every essay is incredibly thought provoking and I was often left wondering about all the other people in the world with similar experiences to Noah’s and how we don’t get to hear enough of them.
As you can probably tell through my review, this book is incredibly quotable. It’s full of insight into life surrounding apartheid in South Africa, but it also captures the essence of adolescence and growing up. Born A Crime read very similarly to how Trevor Noah speaks on The Daily Show and it still held the same wit and humor, even when talking about incredibly serious topics. Born A Crime was impossible to put down and is a must read for everyone.
Born A Crime is inspiring, hilarious, tear jerking and real. It’s the story of Noah’s humble upbringing and how his experiences shaped who he is today. Noah’s relationship with his mom and their entire lives in general are truly miraculous and I have so much respect for both of them. This book is worth the read, more so than most. So give it a chance. It won’t let you down.