Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I don’t usually read memoirs. That’s especially true of memoirs of people in the entertainment business. It’s just not a genre that grabs my attention as a murder mystery or fantasy would. However, I decided to give Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah a go, and I’m so happy I did. I just couldn’t put this book down.

From his early childhood spent mostly hidden to keep the authorities from taking him away, to navigating crushes, the insanity of apartheid and his journey to becoming a famous comedian, Trevor Noah’s life is a fascinating one. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother during apartheid South Africa when his existence itself was considered a crime.

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Throughout the book he explores serious topics such as colonialism, racism, apartheid, being an outsider, abusive relationships, religion, gender roles and more. Yet, this is one of the funniest books I have ever read.

This is a coming of age story of a boy growing up in an intolerant world making his own way with sheer determination, a great sense of humour and the support of his family. Born a Crime is also the story of Trevor’s caring and strong relationship with his tough, rebellious, determined, loving, and deeply religious mother. Patricia Noah is a force to be reckoned with and an admirable person.

The stories collected in this book are by turns hilarious, moving, poignant, and above all, impactful. I recommend this book for those brave enough to laugh through the hard times.

Ariana Galeano is a community services librarian with the Richmond Public Library

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