Title: Born a Crime
Author + Reader: Trevor Noah
Length: 8 hr 50 min
My Rating: 5 / 5
ATTENTION: There are no spoilers in this review.
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.
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.
The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
(This synopsis is from Goodreads.)
The reason I listened to this on audiobook is because Trevor Noah himself was narrating it. It added to the experience. After all, it would be weird to hear someone else telling the biography of another person.
A year ago, I learned a little bit about the apartheid that happened in South Africa. It was interesting to read a first-person perspective on someone who’s been affected by the apartheid.
Trevor Noah also talks about the corruption of power. Not just in the government, but also in people. The apartheid gave more power to some than others, and that made people act a certain way. Sometimes they give back, but others just take and take and take.
One quote that really stood out to me was this:
“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.”
It made me pause and think. Because of that quote, I’ve decided to try and stop worrying what other people think of me and try new things. Who cares if I fail at it? At least I had the experience of doing it.
I’ve got to admit, Trevor Noah had an eventful childhood. I loved the banters between Trevor and his mother. It’s clear throughout the book that Trevor loves and admires his mom despite the hardships they’ve gone through together.
Overall, it was a solid biography. It was funny, eye-opening, and serious all rolled up into one book.
I give this book 5 / 5 BBC Sherlock heads. I highly recommend you listen to it while you read it.
Until next time….