Matthew Olinger-Born a Crime

Author of Book: Trevor Noah
Date Read: October 10, 2023

Book Report

Why I read Born a Crime:

I read “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah because it offers a blend of humor and raw storytelling. Noah’s memoir, set in apartheid-era South Africa, provides a unique perspective on race, identity, and resilience. His ability to infuse even the darkest moments with faith and humor creates a compelling narrative that’s both insightful and entertaining. The book delves into the complexities of growing up as a mixed-race child in a racially segregated society, shedding light on the absurdities of apartheid. Reading it was an eye-opening experience, exposing me to a world of adversity and triumph, all while being thoroughly engrossed in Noah’s witty storytelling.

What I learned from reading Born a Crime:

This book taught me several valuable lessons. First and foremost, it enlightened me about the harsh realities of apartheid in South Africa. Trevor’s personal experiences, told with humor and candor, revealed the absurdity and cruelty of racial segregation. I gained a deeper understanding of the resilience and strength required to navigate such a system, and it reinforced my appreciation for those who fought against it.

Furthermore, the book highlights the power of humor as a coping mechanism in challenging times. Trevor’s ability to find humor in even the bleakest situations was not only inspiring but a testament to the human spirit’s capacity to endure and triumph over adversity.

Lastly, “Born a Crime” emphasized the significance of faith, identity, family, and culture in shaping one’s life. Trevor’s complex relationship with his mother and his journey to self-discovery were touching and relatable, reminding me of the importance of staying true to oneself amidst societal pressures. In sum, this memoir provided me with historical insights, a deeper appreciation for humor, and a profound understanding of personal identity and resilience.

How will reading Born a Crime contribute to my preparations for success upon release?

This memoir significantly contributed to my preparations for success upon release in several ways. It taught me that humanity has the power to persevere even through the most challenging times. Furthermore, the most difficult times can highlight the greatest blessings in our lives and help us prioritize what is truly important in life.

Trevor Noah touches on the power of faith, primarily through the lens of his mother’s unwavering religious beliefs. Trevor’s mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, was a deeply religious woman, and her faith played a significant role in their lives. She followed a Christian faith and instilled its principles in Trevor, teaching him to pray and believe in a higher power. In the book, Trevor often reflects on his mother’s strong faith and how it guided her through difficult times, giving her hope and resilience.

While the book does not focus extensively on faith, it highlights the role of religion in their lives, showcasing how it provided comfort, a moral compass, and a source of strength for Trevor’s family in the challenging and often dangerous environment of apartheid South Africa.

In the book, Trevor’s mom is tragically shot by her ex-husband. When Trevor finds out about the accident, he experiences a moment of clarity where he realizes how important family and friends are, and it leads him to do whatever it takes to save his mother from a gunshot wound to her head. Miraculously through Trevor’s support and the grace of God, his mother survives.

Shortly before his mother’s accident Trevor makes bad decisions and finds himself in jail awaiting a sentencing hearing. During this time, he attempts to hide what he has done from his family. After being released he thinks he has gotten away with what he did without telling his family. When he is reunited with his family for the first time, he quickly realizes that his family knew all along and was supporting him from the outside to ensure that he successfully navigated his brush with the law. It highlighted that hiding from problems only makes things worse and it is important to take responsibility for your actions, apologize to your victims, and work to recalibrate.

These powerful messages reminded me of important life lessons and provided clarity for how to move forward with my life after I am free of the criminal justice system.