Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Rating – 4.3 out of 5


Trevor Noah writes about his experiences as a mix-raced child under Apartheid in South Africa. The stories he tells about his childhood feature his thoughts on race, being a son to a strong and independent mother and the hijinks he got into.

Favorite Quote

“I knew my cousins were getting beaten for things that I’d done, but I wasn’t interested in changing my grandmother’s perspective, because that would mean I’d get beaten, too. Why would I do that? So that I’d feel better? Being beaten didn’t make me feel better. I had a choice. I could champion racial justice in our home, or I could enjoy granny’s cookies. I went with the cookies.”

-Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Pg. 52-53.


Why I liked it

Trevor Noah is an amazing comedian who can find the humor in all that has happened to him. He does not shy away from writing about the the things that make some people uncomfortable. I find that the best way to write about these types of issues, racial injustice and domestic violence in particular, is to write it earnestly and without hyperbole. Noah’s stories are earnest depictions of his life. I was able to see how such an unusual childhood so different than my own was also relatable, not because I have gone through anything like he had but because devious children are devious children no matter what situation they are in.

Noah writes mostly about his mother and how her strength and resolve saw them through what were difficult and often dangerous situations. I do not always like autobiographies, especially ones of people who are young, but Noah’s reads like a biography of his mother rather than a self-indulgent depiction of his own accomplishments. The story is book-ended and driven by her belief in herself and a God in a way that is touching. Noah’s respect and love for his mother is apparent and my respect for her is incredible. She is the subject of this book, and it is all the better for it.

Book Club Question

How do you think humor helped Trevor Noah work through and express the complex and racial driven thoughts that are prevalent in this autobiography?

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