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Born a Crime | Trevor Noah

Publication Date: November 15th, 2016

Page Count: 304

First Sentence: "The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other."

Book Description: Trevor Noah's path from South Africa to host of The Daily Show begins with a crime- his birth. He was born to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father, a union that was considered illegal.  His mother goes to great lengths to keep him hidden from the authorities, because he could easily be taken away from her because his skin is lighter than hers. Post-apartheid, Noah begins to explore a liberated life and grows into the man that his mother took such great pains to raise. 

My thoughts: I recently finished Born a Crime, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. First- I listened to this on Audible and he narrated it himself. I love when a memoir that is narrated by the author. Noah is telling his own story, so no one could have told it in a more authentic way than him. It doesn't hurt that he's a gifted speaker. He speaks several languages and hearing him pronounce the names and cities added a lot to the story for me. He's also really good at using different voices for the characters in his life (I can still hear his mother yelling "Trevor!")

Speaking of his mother... what an amazing lady. You can tell they have an incredible relationship. He and his mom went through a TON (...the ending will blow you away.) There are stories of domestic violence, racism, crime, and poverty.  The book is called Born a Crime because he was, quite literally, born a crime. His mother is Black and his father is White, and he was born during apartheid, where it was illegal to have sex with a person from outside of your race. He's Colored- a term that exists is South Africa to describe someone who is half black and half white. Through his vivid stories, the reader learns a lot about politics and what it was like for him to have to come into his own and grow up in his era.

I have to be honest- I didn't know a ton about Trevor Noah going into this book. I was really captivated by the title: Born a Crime. Trevor is my age- 33 and often I found that I had to remind myself that this book was written in modern day. This book could have been quite heavy. And it is, in a way. That said, there are still a ton of moments of comedy in his story. One of the funniest things I've ever read in my entire life happens in this novel- the chapter where he was describing his having to use the bathroom in front of his blind grandma. Seriously. I was laughing like a maniac in my car by myself when I heard that.

Overall, this was one of best memoirs I've ever read. This wasn't about his rise to fame. In fact, he talks very little about that. It was much more about the politics of South Africa and the disparity that still exists post apartheid. Noah has such a vivid memory- I'm incredibly impressed at the level of detail he was able to recall. He's a fantastic story teller. This book is a balance of truth, seriousness, and light and I really enjoyed it.

Favorite Quote: "In society, we do horrible things to one another because we don't see the person it affects. We don't see their face. We don't see them as people. Which, was the whole reason the hood was built in the first place. To keep the victims of apartheid out of sight, and out of mind. Because if white people ever saw black people as human, they would see that slavery is unconscionable. We live in a world where we don't see the ramifications of what we do to others, because we don't live with them."

Rating: All the stars! 5/5

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