In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah shares his earnest, wholehearted experiences growing up in South Africa. A series of conflicts on race, culture, and values teach Trevor how to live and adapt to the modern world around him. Noah was born in 1984 to a single mother, Patricia, and though Apartheid ended in 1994, racial segregation was nowhere near accomplished throughout society. As Trevor follows his mother throughout the story, he grows, messes up, and learns from his experiences about what makes humans, humans. As he connects with his family and his brothers, Andrew and Isaac, he realizes the dangers of his father through his alcoholic and abusive nature. His experiences protecting his family, mother, and brothers are what leads him to tell his marvelous story to the world we live in now.
The title Born a Crime summarizes the whole story: as Trevor came from a white family and a black family heritage, he was considered illegal and had to live hidden from the government and society itself. Trevor would grow under the shadows without knowing his identity, and who or what groups he belonged to. Throughout school and his other experiences, learning different aspects of culture and language allowed him to blend into Black people, white people, and many different communities. Looking through different cultures through Trevor’s eyes allows people to see how difficult it was to find out how to live. As the story unwinds, Trevor discovers who he really is: a courageous, independent African-American.
The writing in this story is beautiful and extravagant, simple to read, and easy to understand. It goes through a series of his segments separated by age and period of culture, from figuring out who he is to protecting his family and surviving on his own. In the end, everything comes together to tell the story of Trevor Noah. This is great for all kinds of readers – especially readers that love being told an exciting story of conflict and culture.
Review by: Mark L.
Mark is a virtual volunteer at Sylmar Branch Library. He is a 11th grader at North Hollywood High School.
—Dana Eklund, Sylmar Branch Library