Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African ChildhoodTitle: Born a Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Genre: Autobiography
Date published:
Page Count: 462

Rating: 5/5

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.


Born a Crime is Trevor Noah’s memoir about his childhood back in post-Apartheid South America.

In this memoir, Trevor tells us snippets and stories of his childhood. As readers, we are not exposed to everything at once, but rather learn little by little about Trevor and his family with every story he tells.

What we do know, is that he grew up never fitting in anywhere. Born as a mixed child of a white father and black mother, Trevor was too white to be black, too black to be white, and privileged to be coloured. In many ways, he learned to be a cultural chameleon, trying to blend in wherever he can, but never truly fitting in wherever he was. The book addresses the poverty, the racism, and the social barriers that he faced growing up.

His story would have been sad and disheartening, yet Trevor’s personal narration makes the more unfortunate things humourous and light-hearted. His positive approach to life even at the young age of 4 is so inspiring. And to say the least, it makes the memoir so enticing to read.

The stories are to die for. The situational ironies and uncanny coincidences are gold (or should I say cheese :P). The stories are hilarious on their own, but the way Trevor delivers them and the commentaries he makes are what makes his memoir so memorable and hilarious. I don’t think I’ve laughed this much in so long; heck he made me laugh out loud during my math class for five minutes straight. It feels as if he’s here next to you telling you the story, because everything is so authentic and down to earth.

It’s amazing how after all the suffering and discrimination he’s gone through, he pulled through and became such an open-minded and generous person. I loved reading his autobiography so much, and it has made me gain so much respect for him.

The only difficulty I had while reading was that it wasn’t told in chronological order. One thing you’ll notice immediately is that it jumps back and forth between when he was 5 to when he was 17 to when he was 20 to back when he was 7. It’s confusing as hell. But then again, the book isn’t meant for us to breeze through his life; it’s meant for us to jump back and forth as we focus in on snippets of his past and see the insights he’s built up while reflecting back.

Something that really tugged my heartstrings was how much he dedicated the book to his mother. His mom raise him by herself and was the biggest influence in his life. Most of his experiences in South America were tied to his mom. As a result, Born a Crime was as much an autobiography as a love letter to his mother.


This was such a memorable autobiography. All I can say is that I’ll probably be pushing my friends to read it as well 🙂


4 thoughts on “Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

  1. I loved this book too! And I respect Trevor Noah so much because you can tell he’s just a really level-headed guy, and his random stories on the Daily Show are hilarious. And yes, you can totally tell he loves his mom. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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