Are you looking for a good, compelling book to read over the weekend? Trevor Noah's "Born To A Crime" might be the answer. Read the review by Riddhi!
"But the real world doesn't go away. Racism exists. People are getting hurt. And just because it's not happening to you, doesn't mean it's not happening."
With the #BlackLivesMatter movement raging through the world, we can finally say that the universe is waking up to the immense hate and malice that colored people, black people, and people who identify themselves to be slightly different from the greater majority, are subjected to. And in my opinion, the best way we can strive towards a more inclusive world where people are not judged based on the colour of their skin is by reading and getting to know more about every kind of person that lives on the same planet as us. You see, when we read about the history of South Africa, we come to see the struggle that the people living there were faced with, during the Apartheid regime. And when we realize all that they have been through, we learn to respect their kind--we learn to see them as great survivors who did not cower in the face of abject torture.
Just some weeks ago, when books on racism came up to the top of the bestseller lists around the world, I was surprised that this book wasn't mentioned even once, although it definitely should have. Trevor Noah can't be called a comedian--because he is so much more. He has this way of telling stories that draw people in and before you know it, you are so engrossed in what he has to say, that you can't put your mind to anything else before you've heard the entire tale. And that is exactly the kind of magic Noah has concocted in his book "Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood". You can call it an autobiography, covering the span from Trevor's birth to his meteoric rise as a young comedian in the United States. But if I tell you this book is unputdownable, you will be skeptical---an autobiography, unputdownable? But yes. You see, I am the kind of person who drowns herself in fast-paced thrillers, so I took a leap of faith when I started reading this book and I can tell you, it had as much pace as the best of the thrillers I have read. Now I can see why they say-- life is the greatest adventure of all. Life can thrilling too, life can be fast-paced---and you can see that in Trevor Noah's book.
The book begins with the Immorality Act which abolished any "illicit carnal intercourse" between a native African and a European. And Trevor was a product of just that. His father is Swiss while his mother is a native. And he is born a crime. The very first chapter of the book pulls you in as Trevor goes on to narrate the story of his weekend ventures to the Church, or Churches, to be precise, with his mother. He gives you a short history written in bold in front of each chapter, so that you get to know the African culture in a deeper sense before delving into his life story.
The book mainly focuses on two primary characters. Trevor and his mother, Patricia Noah---a fiery Xhosa woman who is probably the most admirable character I have ever read in a book. As Trevor starts telling you about his early life, you dig deep into the chronicles of South Africa too, because he sprinkles some history here and there. You get to know of their tribes---the Zulu, the Xhosa, the Africaans, and many, many others. And of course, Trevor puts his outrageously funny self to use in many of the anecdotes---in fact, at times it had me wondering how someone can write a book on as grave a subject as a childhood under the Apartheid and still make me smile. But that is Trevor Noah for you. Trevor skillfully deals with everything that happened in his early years, how it was just him and his mother against the world but then Abel, his mother's abusive boyfriend, came into the picture and also how he and his mother drifted apart once Trevor stepped into adulthood. This book deals with the Apartheid, the African history, the nuances of life as the mother and son duo learn to survive and thrive with what they have, the aspects of a young boy growing up and learning about the world and even the story of Trevor's failed attempts at trying to find love in his school years---you might wonder how all of this could be packed into a book with only 288 pages but again, that is what makes this so special.
I can safely say that this is probably the most enjoyable autobiography I have read in my entire life and I am grateful to Noah for sharing the history of his birthplace with us in such an astute manner. I would urge each one of you to read this book if you want to learn more about the people we are fighting for, before you sympathize with the #BlackLivesMatter movement---because this makes the journey way more special. In my Indian curriculum, the only time I have seen South Africa mentioned in the history books is when we read about Gandhiji and his brief stay as a lawyer in that country. But there is so much more to discover. And with this book, I found a chunk of it and I can only thank Noah for that. I read this book a month back but I was trying to come up with a review befitting this genius of a book. If you're reading this review, make sure you purchase this book and read it or listen to the audiobook narrated by Trevor Noah himself and I assure you, you will treasure this experience for a long, long time.
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Author: Riddhi M. is a pre-med student from India who is obsessed with books of all genres. She lives with her five kittens and when she’s not reading thrillers or writing blog posts, you can find her having momos or playing chess online.