Best thing first, I love how Trevor Noah talks about his mom in the book. And, basically, very openly he dedicates his success to his mom not through merely a “dedication note”, but by intertwining innumerable anecdotes about how heroic his mom is throughout in the memoir. Based on his account, I can vouch too that his mom is his superhero, without a cape, who made him the person he is.
Next great thing about the book is Trevor Noah’s impeccable story telling skills. Just like he does it in his stand-up shows or like he did in the The Daily Show, the one of the things that sets him apart from every one else in the business, Trevor’s ability to blend humour and poignant social commentary seamlessly is commendable and in the book it has been done even more fluidly. He shares stories that are both entertaining and eye-opening, shining a light on the realities of apartheid and the challenges of growing up in poverty.
What I found particularly powerful about the book was the way that Trevor uses his own story to shed light on the broader social and political issues of the time. He talks about the impact of apartheid on his family and community, as well as the legacy of colonialism and racism in South Africa and around the world. And despite the weighty subject matter, Trevor manages to infuse the book with his trademark humour and wit. He very obscurely introduces us to the grave realities of Apartheid. May be not obscurely, but his tone and writing is so upbeat that the book evades any seriousness that surrounds the topic.
Every reader would agree, that the book felt, to a large extent, an unfiltered account of his early years. I think it was very real and raw recounting of his challenging experiences in Apartheid South Africa. The part that I found the most amazing is that he has written his experiences through the lens of a child/adolescent/ teenager/ young adult. The book doesn’t lose a sense of reality or become pedagogical. It truly captures only the experiences of young Trevor Noah and not the opinions of the Noah who is now well read. Through his witty and honest writing, he shares his stories of growing up as a mixed-race child in a country where it was illegal to have parents of different races. So, basically, the book is largely the emotions and problems of a kid growing up and finding his place in a confusing, layered world.
Having said that, I will be honest here. I think at times he delved too much into his childhood years, or his young adult days that I felt weren’t hooking, especially the ones where he is describing his experiences with dating or his music business. But, retrospectively, I feel I have a much better perspective on his personality and his journey. While he mostly sticks to his personal experiences, Trevor also provides a broader historical context, giving readers a deeper understanding of the complex political and social landscape of South Africa during apartheid.
Overall, I would highly recommend Born a Crime to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and entertaining read. Whether you’re a fan of Trevor Noah or not, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in South African history, racial politics, or just a damn good story. His unique perspective and storytelling abilities make for an unforgettable read that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.
P.S. I don’t think I’ve ever had a crush on him. After this book, I hold my ground even stronger. He gives me those elder brother/ best friend vibes. So, Trevor Noah if you ever read this, which I am sure you wouldn’t, I have friend zoned you even before you know it.