A review by amber_lea84
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah

5.0

I was someone who'd never heard of Trevor Noah until he was made the new host of the Daily Show. I also haven't watched the Daily Show much since he became the new host, and I didn't know he had a new book out. So, I'm not really someone who's super familiar with Trevor Noah.

But when I came across this book at the library I was like heck yes and checked it out immediately. Because while I don't know much about him, I do know I like him and I know he's from South Africa. There was no way this book wasn't going to be interesting.

I made the assumption this was going to be the story of Trevor's life leading up to his hosting the Daily Show. It's actually the story of his childhood and South Africa and his mother. I believe the Daily Show was only mentioned once in passing, and he only mentions his life after the age of 18 twice.

This book is good. Trevor talks about growing up under Apartheid and living what seems like an impossible life. And it feels honest. He's not afraid to tell you things that's aren't flattering, about himself and about his family. I think he did that so you could keep in mind that maybe that troublemaker who's always raising hell might grow up to be someone you really like someday, and maybe the guy down the street who seems extremely nice is harboring unexpected rage, maybe the crazy religious lady who's always causing trouble is an exceptional parent. Nobody is simply what they appear to be. This book is presented as a series of essays and I think that idea comes across again and again. And I think another message that comes through in a lot of these stories is how people are driven by what they believe about the world and about themselves, and what they do or don't tell themselves has a huge impact on their choices and how they behave.

I know this isn't fiction, it's real life, so you often aren't left with a "moral to the story" but I really appreciate it when people write with the intention of telling you what they understand about the world. And some things Trevor mentions explicitly, like how people get separated into in groups and out groups, and the whole Tower of Babel thing South Africa has going on, but other things are less explicitly stated. I'm kind of disappointed that out of all the books I've been reading for book clubs lately, this isn't one of them because there's a lot to dissect.

It definitely could have gone deeper, but for a celebrity memoir it's really good.