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Review: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Summary from Goodreds:

The memoir 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.


One of goals in 2021 is to read more nonfiction titles because I did not read a single one last year and I started it off with a good one! I finally picked up the memoir by Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show and a great comedian. I connected with the writing style of the memoir and was able to read it in only a few hours. I’m hoping that Noah writes more in the future.

I found the format well-done, how he talked about this childhood but also focused on the political issues of the times with apartheid. He tackled heavy subjects and exposes the reader to a the life he had that was a lot different from their own experiences.

I felt like Trevor Noah’s memoir could have been 100-200 pages longer. It left off after an amazing story about his mother and I was left wanting more. I would have liked to learn more about his comedy career and his present day life. Overall, it was a well-done memoir but it could have been a lot longer!

I recommend checking out this well-written memoir by Trevor Noah. It was a good read.


5 Stars Out of 5 Stars.


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