I read this book last November before a return mission trip to South Africa, but I really wanted to hear it in Trevor Noah’s own voice. He is a born story teller and he has an amazingly compelling story to tell. It is strange to think how young he is. I don’t remember apartheid, but it was happening in my lifetime. The beautiful way he unravels the narrative is more like the way you learn a friends life story – bits and pieces that tie into one another – rather than someone sitting down to tell you their life A to Z.
Born a Crime is the story of Trevor Noah’s life, being born as a mixed person (half black, half white) during the time of apartheid in South Africa – where his birth alone was evidence of a crime. Noah’s story has so much heart as it explores a plethora of social issues from a place that is both deeply genuine and genuinely funny. The reader is taken on a tour of what is was to grow up in South Africa – poverty, racism, institutional abuses, the awkwardness of adolescence, faith, generational family systems, crimes from pirating cds to attempted murder. We are seemingly invited into Noah’s deepest confidences.
The stand out character for me is not even Noah himself (though he is a close second). His Mother, Patricia Noah, is a FORCE. I love her, I admire her, and I kind of fear her. She is bravery personified. She lived her life the way she wanted and the rest of the world was just going to have to keep up. With all the hardships, it would have been easy to give up. I would have given up. Instead she faced life with what she had- raw determination and a deep faith.
Language is so central to the story, so hearing Noah share dialogue in all these different African languages rather than my mind’s voice butchering them was a notable improvement in the audio book. Also, the way he paints the characters he interacts with, from his formidable mother to random bit players, really elevates the experience. It was a radio play more than a narrative. I HIGHLY recommend this book and audio book.
“Love is a creative act. When you love someone you create a new world for them. My mother did that for me, and with the progress I made and the things I learned, I came back and created a new world and a new understanding for her.”