kglibrarian 's Reviews > Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
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bookshelves: africa, memoirs, nonfiction

This is a somewhat entertaining account of Noah’s experience growing up in South Africa in the midst of apartheid’s demise. The son of a white father and a black mother, Noah is treated as an outcast in every community he encounters. While experiencing both ordinary and traumatic events, he learns to cope with the circumstances of his life by using humor.

Though the book gave me an education, through the author’s eyes, of the inner workings of pre- and post-apartheid South Africa, it also left me slightly unsatisfied. Memoir is a favorite genre of mine and what I love about it is the way authors analyze their lives and emotions. Trevor Noah only scrapes the surface of the stories he tells. There are some anecdotes that are hilarious (like the time when he goes to the bathroom on his living room floor and tries to cover it up); some that are cruel (I’m not a fan of anything having to do with hurting animals); and some that are sad (the abuse he suffers from both parents is heartbreaking). But throughout the book, I felt like something was missing. The majority of the book covers the facts about occurrences; there is little reflection on what each event means to him. He gives interesting, brief assessments of his country’s history and state of social affairs, but again, nothing too deep.

Much of my critique may have to do with the tone of the book and the writing style. Noah uses an extremely casual tone, which I wouldn’t mind except that it seems to go too far in that direction and lacks a sense of coherence at times. And the words themselves are not carefully crafted. The editing is another issue for me--there are several incidents that are repeated in different places without any explanation.

Overall, I’m glad I learned something from Trevor Noah’s story, but this wasn’t one of my favorite memoirs.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 29, 2019 – Shelved
October 29, 2019 – Shelved as: africa
October 29, 2019 – Shelved as: memoirs
October 29, 2019 – Shelved as: nonfiction
October 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

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