Born a Crime – book review

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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Trevor Noah, comedian and current host (as of 2020) of The Daily Show, was born and raised in South Africa under apartheid. He was literally “born a crime,” as his mother was black and his father was white, and their relationship was deemed illegal, as was Trevor, the result of it. Still, there were many other “colored” children and race was very segregated. Blacks, whites, and colored peoples all lived in different areas and were supposed to remain in those spheres, separate from one another. That was difficult for Trevor’s family, since there was no place all three of them could legally live together. Often their lives were difficult because of the choices they made, and they were all stubborn and independent people, so there were many disagreements. Trevor’s mom never married his dad. She eventually did marry his stepfather, Abel, who was abusive and became more so as his business endeavors failed and his drinking increased. Trevor left home as a young adult to avoid Abel’s wrath, but his mother was often a victim and no matter how many times she went to the police to press charges, they never took her seriously (Abel always said, “You know how women are…” and they’d dismiss any concerns). Trevor shares some of the stories and experiences from his life growing up in South Africa – all the trouble he and his friends got into, his early business endeavors, school issues, family issues, religion (he and his mom were always arguing about Jesus and church), and more, which is fascinating, especially if you aren’t that familiar with South Africa, or apartheid. (Unfortunately, there are plenty of abusive relationships everywhere.) He doesn’t really go into his career in comedy (he mentions that he became a comedian several times, but nothing beyond that) or how he became so successful. This biography was on a list of award-nominees (Abe Lincoln award nominee, 2019), and I honestly didn’t know who Trevor Noah was until I researched him further and realized I’d been enjoying his appearances on the Daily Show (to be fair to me, I don’t watch it regularly – I’ve only seen clips of it now and then). OH. THAT IS TREVOR NOAH. YES. HE IS QUITE FUNNY. Some of that humor does carry over into his biography, but mostly it’s impressive how he’s made his way in the world.

Reviewed by YA Librarian

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