Thursday, January 12, 2017

5 Reasons to Read Born a Crime

Title: Born a Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Genre: Memoirs | Nonfiction
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Publication Date: November 14, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased

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 (goodreads).

Like most of you, I was originally introduced to Trevor Noah from the Daily Show. I was a bit hesitant because Jon Stewart was such a great host, but I eventually accepted Noah and liked hearing from his perspective. One day, I did a random google search on Trevor Noah and boy was I surprised. This is a novel I think everyone should read, regardless if you're a fan of memoirs or not. 

Trevor Noah is so insightful. Noah's life experiences undoubtedly shaped him into the young man he is today, and I was surprised by how he was able to make direct correlations to his life. Noah is an incredibly eloquent young man, and I only hope I sound this eloquent when I reflect on my youth jk that will never happen. 

This is first-hand look at the Apartheid. I admit, my knowledge of it is super shallow, in high school we just learned that it was bad and that it was over (Noah talks about this in his novel as well). Born a Crime gives you first-hand look at the reason for the Apartheid as well as its immediate dissolution. From an outsider perspective, I thought that that everything fixed itself when Mandela was freed. Oh how wrong I was. Read this book to learn about the South African history that our Western history barely touches on.

It's hilarious. Trevor Noah is naturally entertaining and he reflects on some of the most embarrassing and hilarious moments of his life. Even from a young age it was clear that Trevor would be entertaining masses forever, and I feel so bad for his poor mother and grandmother. Just to give you a taste, Trevor reflects on first dates, attending cultural days, and becoming an overnight hustler. 

He hits on all the social issues. Of course race is a predominant topic in Born a Crime, and I loved how he was able to compare the experiences of being colored in South Africa to being black in the United States. In addition to his numerous observations to the power of race and colorism, Trevor also talks about living in a male-dominated society that expects women to obey and serve. I found his chapter on domestic violence to be the hardest to read because he had such a personal tie to it and was very transparent with the situation. 

Noah is honest. The best word I can think to describe this book is "genuine." It doesn't feel like Noah is talking any of the stories up to make for an entertaining read, and he is more than open with his childhood experience which makes you feel like you have a connection to Noah. I can't help but root for Noah in all of his future endeavors. He is an impressive human being who has so much more to offer. 


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