Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

One of the longest holds I’ve waited for. So when I got a copy at the library I was thrilled. Let me start by saying that, I really enjoyed every part of this book. Trevor Noah shares stories about his childhood in South Africa which gives us insights into what it was like towards the end of the apartheid and in the years that followed. 

“On February 20, 1984, my mother checked into Hillbrow Hospital for a scheduled C-section delivery. Estranged from her family, pregnant by a man she could not be seen with in public, she was alone. The doctors took her up to the delivery room, cut open her belly, and reached in and pulled out a half-white, half-black child who violated any number of laws, statutes, and regulations—I was born a crime.”

Patricia Noah, his mother played a huge role in his life and provided him experiences which defined who he would grow up to be. In the multiple essays in the book, he covers serious issues like colonialism  Trevor Noah covers a lot of serious issues like colonialism, apartheid, being an outsider, religion, education, gender roles and more. He talks about how his mother – who comes across as the rugged heroine of his story – played the system well to get her illegal “colored” child into better schools and neighborhoods, and how this often led to him having difficulty fitting in. 

This book is a collection of personal essays which were so brutally honest that I loved every one of them. Reading them gives you an idea of everything Trevor Noah had to go through to become who he is as a person. Life in countries like South Africa is far more complicated than what you see in the news. The essays in this book give you an idea of what its like in first person. The stories from his life are so raw and genuine that you can’t take you be forced to stay up all night reading this till you finish. I’m definitely going to be rereading this sometime again.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book –

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” 

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”

“We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.” 

“Being chosen is the greatest gift you can give to another human being.”

“Learn from your past and be better because of your past,” she would say, “but don’t cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t be bitter.” 

“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. And at some point you have to choose; black or white, pick a side. You can try to hide from it. You can say, oh I don’t take sides, but at some point, life will force you to pick a side.” 

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