Thursday, March 21, 2019

Audiobook review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Book Summary
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 stories 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.

Flo's Review
What a fantastic audiobook this was! I'm so, so glad I listened to this one. Trevor read it, and because of that I got the full experience of hearing the language and learning the names as they're meant to be heard and known. I cannot imagine that I would have enjoyed this half as much just by reading it. 

Well, actually I would have. Trevor Noah is so smart and clever. It's clear he did his research, and I learned so much just by listening to him. Listening to this audiobook allowed me to learn about lives and experiences that I might never have the opportunity to otherwise. This book really is an important part of making our world smaller and of helping us all to understand each other. What I mean by Trevor being clever -- and no, I didn't just say that because I wanted to make a rhyme! -- is that he always finds a way to relate his completely different experience of growing up in South Africa to the familiar experience of readers in the Western world (and those in other parts of the world as well.) He shows us, "People are people. We are not that different. We are the same." 

But he is also introspective about society and how things ended up the way they did. He shares a story and then often gives such thoughtful commentary on it afterward. It was brilliant. Through hearing his story, we see that Trevor is empathetic as well. And WOW -- I have the utmost respect for his mother. That woman is amazing, and I would love to have even a little bit of her strength, faith, courage, flexibility, and love. 

This book, you guys. I laughed at parts. I wanted to cry at parts. It made me think deep thoughts and celebrate the universality of humanity. And I learned so much. I highly, highly recommend this one.

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