Before I start my review, I want to take a minute to praise Trevor Noah’s stand up shows because they’re one of the few that don’t rely on being ignorant. His shows are one of the enlighten ones focusing on race, white-privilege, police brutality, hate speech, prejudice, and so much more.
I’d highly recommend watching a few before reading this riveting memoir. In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah takes us on a journey from his childhood being born a crime in apartheid South Africa. 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. This memoir 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.
Side note: Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah – his mother – was a powerhouse, a strong woman in every sense. She’s a warrior and I only wish I could be a half of the person she is. Also, I love the advice she gave her son—I even wrote a few pieces down to remember:
“Abel wanted a traditional marriage with a traditional wife. For a long time I wondered why he ever married a woman like my mom in the first place, as she was the opposite of that in every way. If he wanted a woman to bow to him, there were plenty of girls back in Tzaneen being raised solely for that purpose. The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women. “He’s like an exotic bird collector,” she said. “He only wants a woman who is free because his dream is to put her in a cage.”
This passage had pretty much changed the way I think, the way I precept the world.
“She’d tell me not to worry. She always came back to the phrase she lived by: “If God is with me, who can be against me?” She was never scared. Even when she should have been.”
The piece stuck with me.
Truly though, this memoir was enlighten, brimming with emotion, and I love it when children pay tribute to their hard-working mothers.
“There was no stepfather in the picture yet, no baby brother crying in the night. It was me and her, alone. There was this sense of the two of us embarking on a grand adventure. She’d say things to me like, “It’s you and me against the world.” I understood even from an early age that we weren’t just mother and son. We were a team.”
My mind and heart were fully transported while reading everything Trevor went through to get to where he is today and everyone that took part of that journey.
And even though some of the stories kind of broke my heart, Trevor Noah always managed to bring in his gold humor to ease the tension. There are a couple of chapters that have taken a hold of my soul and won’t let go because either they were extremely hilarious (TREVOR, PRAY & LOOPHOLES) or entirely heart-shattering (MY MOTHER’S LIFE)… or both.
Slowly and surely, I came to admire Trevor Noah’s character and honesty even more than I did before. And I’m pretty sure that I’ll end up watching and rewatching his stand-up shows so that I can stop tearing up at the mention of his name.
ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.