Born a Crime by Trevor Noah Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Before reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, I knew Trevor Noah only through some of the insightful and humorous Daily Show clips that make the rounds on social media. I also knew very little about apartheid South Africa, unfortunately, let alone what it was like to live under it as a mixed-race child, the very existence of whom was a crime.

This—the not knowing—is the best reason to read a book, right? And Noah comes through. He easily, clearly, and with wit provides insight into what it was like to grow up poor in 1980s and 90s South Africa, the product of a white Swiss father and a black South African mother.

It is his bond with his fierce, religious mother that dominates these stories—she is his companion, his teammate, his advocate, and she loves him with the kind of love that gives him a name with no African meaning—Trevor—so he’ll have no pre-determined destiny boxing him in, teaches him English so he’ll have a leg up in the world, and throws him from a moving car to prevent him from being kidnapped.

Stepping into another’s shoes for a deeper understanding is something we could all do more of these days. I highly recommend this book.


Jessica Null Vealitzek is a writer near Chicago. Her debut novel, The Rooms Are Filled, was published by She Writes Press in April 2014. She can be found online at her web site, on Facebook, and on Twitter.


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Link to buy Born a Crime at your local independent bookstore (we love them!) or at Indiebound by clicking here.