Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

By Trevor Noah

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy

“As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark, and I was the milk chocolate. “

Trevor Noah – Born a Crime

Synopsis (Goodreads)

The memoir of 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.


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Here’s the full quote from above:

“As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark, and I was the milk chocolate. But we were all just chocolate. I didn’t know any of it had anything to do with “race”. I didn’t know what race was. My mother never referred to my dad as white or me as mixed. So when the other kids in Soweto called me “white”, even though I was light brown, I just thought they had their colors mixed up, like they hadn’t learned them properly. “Ah, yes, my friend. You’ve confused aqua with turquoise. I can see how you made that mistake, You’re not the first.” ✨

Trevor Noah – Born a Crime

This quote is one of my favourites (among the dozen more that I flagged ), because I feel such a personal connection to it being mixed (White and Black). Growing up, I was aware that I was not fully White and that I wasn’t fully Black, but it was never something that had an immense of conversation surrounding. I just saw myself as the milk chocolate. It was only as I got older, and my peers at school would point it out and try to pull me in one direction or the other that I gave it some thought and felt like I was in this kind of limbo.

As I was reading, I would turn to my boyfriend to tell him about something I’d read, and at one point he said “I was going to read that when you’re done, but you’re telling me the entire book (😂), I’m happy that you’re able to connect with parts of it though”. 

I learned a lot while reading this. I had heard of apartheid and knew that it was a system of racial segregation, but I honestly didn’t know all that much about the specifics. Needless to say, I expanded my knowledge on it, through the lens of someone who personally experienced it.

Besides the incredibly meaningful parts of this book, there are some hilarious stories that I literally stopped and cry-laughed at for an unreasonable amount of time 😂

Even though Trevor’s upbringing and experiences are wildly different than mine, there were a ton of things I was able to relate to, and I honestly think that everyone who reads this would feel the same. There are a ton of important topics that are touched upon, and spoken about in a wonderful manner. I loved it so much 💕


4 thoughts on “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

  1. I have had the audiobook version of this for so long and I listened to it long ago and really loved it. Now that I see your review, I want to listen to it all over again. He really has a way with words and talent.


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