FIP Book Review: Born a Crime

Title:  Born a Crime

Author: Trevor Noah

Goodreads summary: 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.

FIP Review: 

Mr. Trevor Noah *I bow down*

I don’t think its any long fair to simplly label Trevor Noah a comedian; after reading his book, FIP sees him as a deeply reflective person who, like his mother pokes fun at the atrocities of life to hide his raw emotions.  Stand up comics often use their life stories as a back drop to many of their acts but this is not what we find in this book. Rather we are faced with a harrowing account of a half black – half white child growing up in South Africa in the 1990’s.  During the narrative you find yourself laughing hard at times and suddenly staring down the reality of a life where you are forced to eat worms or goat eyes for survival. At times you may doubt humanity but you never doubt the resilience of young Trevor Noah.

FIP gives this book a 4.75 stars. We missed the 5 star mark only because we wish the book was longer. We leave off when Trevor is able to pay for his mother’s medical expenses but I want to know more about how he got to net worth of $3 million. Here’s to hoping he writes a sequel.

FIP also highly recommends the audio version; I promise you will be wholly entertained by Mr Noah’s mimicry skills.



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