Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: A Review

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I've actually been waiting to read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah for a really long time.  I had seen a couple of his comedy specials on Netflix a while ago and enjoyed his refreshingly honest brand of comedy.  Born a Crime is written the same way.  Noah doesn't mince words and is honest throughout his book, even about embarrassing misunderstandings like bringing a dancer with the name of a famous dictator to perform at a school function.  This book is more of a memoir than a comedy but there are many parts that left me literally laughing out loud (don't you love it when you are reading something funny and laughing out loud and nobody knows whether you are reading something funny or are just a bit crazy?).   

Noah was born in South Africa during apartheid.  The very first thing that you read in the book is the law that prohibits interracial romance.  Noah’s religious mother, Patricia, meets a Swiss-German expat who abhors racism, Robert, and falls in love with him.  After a time, she asks him to conceive a child with her.  Just conceive the child with her- not marry her, not move in with her, not “have a baby together”- conceive a child with her and let her raise it with he having no responsibility, at all.  He finally agrees and that child is Trevor.  Noah’s father is not on the birth certificate because to put him on the birth certificate would be to admit to his father and mother’s crime but Robert does want to have some contact with his son.  Ultimately, Noah is raised primarily by his mother who drags him to three different churches each Sunday but from whom he inherits his mother’s magnificent sense of humor.  The story of Noah’s childhood, with all of its hilarity and heartbreak, ensues.

Noah being a comedian, this book has many stories that are incredibly funny but there are also some dark parts, as well.  This book is overall about hope and enduring, though.  Noah’s mother Patricia laughs because, as we say around here, if she didn’t laugh, she’d cry.  Patricia reminded me of my grandmother who was a Louisiana Creole who raised five children while on and off welfare.  Her life was not easy but she never stopped laughing.  My father told me that during one Thanksgiving, my grandmother made my aunt cry by putting a Cornish game hen inside of a turkey and screaming, “Oh my God, this turkey is pregnant” (but who can believe my father- he was quite the jokester himself).  Noah’s attempts at a relationship with his father may have been thwarted by the evils of apartheid and a jealous step-father but Noah keeps up his sense of humor and “created chaos” through the adversity.  Patricia continues to pray for Trevor, hoping that he will be successful despite the unhealthy relationship with her new husband and the limits that society has imposed on him.  I think almost anyone would find inspiration in this story and you don’t have to be a fan of Noah’s, or of comedy in general, in order to enjoy it.


This book is currently available and can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Read more reviews on this book on Goodreads.

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