Born a Crime is a personal glimpse into Trevor Noah’s life both during and after the apartheid in South Africa. It is also a story about his relationship with his stubborn, courageous, and extremely religious mother who is determined to save him from the cycle of poverty and violence.
The story begins with a severe crime committed by Noah’s parents, his birth. As the child of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, Noah’s entrance into the world was illegal and a crime punishable by five years in prison during the apartheid at the time. Growing up, Noah was never allowed to play outside, nor was he permitted to walk beside his mother out in public. Struggling to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist, Noah and his mother set out on an adventure to find happiness and a better life.
This book would have been more enjoyable for me if Noah had shared how his career took off. While he briefly mentions his comedy success in South Africa, he didn’t reveal much as to how he branched off to the United States. Nevertheless, I did enjoy learning about his life. What I appreciated most about Noah’s story is the brief history he so elegantly weaves together about South Africa’s darkest moment. He doesn’t just tell the history of his country; he helps explain it without complication. Here’s how Noah perfectly defines the apartheid for his readers:
“The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.” P. 3
Noah’s memoir is more than just a book about his past, but an inspirational story that also highlights domestic abuse, poverty, hustling, race, gender, faith, friendship, childhood, and the ferocity of a mother’s love.
While I wish he would’ve shared more about his career, this book was a good read overall.