Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book Review: Born a Crime

I recently listened to Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah on audio and you guys.... I loved it so much. I really wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. I was just in search of a fun celebrity memoir, narrated by the author, to listen to on my commutes and long runs throughout the week. Something easy to pass the time while I took on the more boring parts of my day. This book really blew me away and I'm so happy I decided to download this book this month. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this book with you all, so keep reading for a non-spoiler review!

While Born a Crime is a memoir and is written by a celebrity, this book is so different than what I was expecting. Most of the celebrity memoirs I've read follow somewhat the same formula. We learn a bit about the celebrity's childhood, their ~awkward teen years~, how they discovered their passion for whatever made them famous, and then we usually get a behind the scenes look at what their career is/was. It's usually pretty run-of-the-mill, and they're usually a delightful 3.5-4 star read for me. A little slice of what my favorite celebrities are like beyond what I see on the screen. This book wasn't like that at all.

Born a Crime is a memoir entirely about Noah's life growing up in South Africa. Noah was born during apartheid to a white, Swiss father and a black, South African mother. Interracial relations were extremely illegal during apartheid, making Noah's mere existence a crime. Noah talks extensively about what it was like growing up "colored" (the South African term for biracial people) in this time and relates many of his experience to things that were happening on a grander scale within his home country during his childhood and adolescence, before and after democracy was introduced.

The stories Noah tells about his family, his friends, his school life, and his young adulthood are extremely endearing. He invites you into his life in a way that feels extremely kind and genuine, aware that his audience for this book may not fully understand his experiences but makes it easy for them to go along with him on his journey. He gives you a full sense of not only who he is as a person, but also gives you a clear picture of what life was and is like living in South Africa. Noah never seems defensive of his upbringing, but rather shows his audience his roots in a way that makes you feel fortunate for being let in. He almost makes you feel a part of his life with his mother (he talks about his relationship with her extensively - it's clear he loves her and that she is a huge part of who he is!) which is such a wonderful gift when you're learning about someone's life.

As mentioned above, I listened to this book on audio, which was narrated by Noah himself. If you haven't listened to him talk, I highly recommend doing so. (He's the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, so it's fairly easy to experience!) He has a very distinct voice that is so perfect for telling his own story and it totally enhances the book as a whole. There are also parts of this audiobook where you can hear different sounds outside of the narrative - a shifting of the papers he is reading off of, a creak in his voice, the running together of words here and there. It just is a really lovely experience listening to this book and I would totally recommend trying the audiobook out if you have the opportunity.

Overall, I gave this book...
5/5 Stars!

It's very clear that I loved this book and enjoyed my experience of reading it. I loved it so much that I actually ordered a physical copy! There are a lot of sections of this book I would love to go back and highlight and tab, and I would also love to reread and revisit Trevor and his mother in South Africa again. Highly recommend this read if you're looking for a memoir. I loved it!

Have you read Born a Crime? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments!

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