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Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
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September 2019: Cultural > Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah - 4 Stars [Trim]

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Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
4 Stars
TRIM - #3 - September
304 Pages

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about 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.


This is a book that had been on my list for a while, and when I had a chance to listen to it on audio I jumped at the chance. I listen to audiobooks on a regular basis, and as such, there are times I regret listening to the audio version as the book loses some of the beauty. Then the are times like this one where I am extremely glad that I chose to listen to the audio version because so much is added to the book. Trevor Noah is the reader of his own book and because of that you get all of his comedic performance. The impressions that Noah does of the different characters that come in and out of his life were a truly great bonus to listening to this book.

In listening to this book I was again reminded of how our perspective as Americans is so skewed. Certainly, in some areas were fool ourselves into thinking we are so much bigger and better. But likewise, as Americans we think the mistakes we make are unique and are uniquely awful. This is true with slavery and racism. Americans often think slavery is a uniquely American problem and that racism was far worse here than anyone else could have done. Listening to Noah's life in post-apartheid South Africa was a stark reminder of just how bad racism can be.

I was struck throughout this book by the thought that anyone, with assistance, can overcome their circumstances no matter how bad they are. Noah even points this out. That assistance is not a handout, it is often just a tool that is missing in order to allow someone to overcome. We that can provide that assistance need to keep that in mind. Providing little acts of service, such as donating books, can often provide others with the tools they need to overcome what appear to be insurmountable circumstances.

Overall, I really enjoyed the mixture of humor, insight, and learning that this book brought to me.


message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7860 comments Wonderful review-I love his subtle humor-I may have to pick this one up next time I see it at a book sale


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