Book review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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“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.”

I know of Trevor Noah, but I wouldn’t call myself a big fan. I’ve seen clips of interviews and segments from The Daily Show and he’s funny and insightful. I just don’t actively seek out his work. After seeing all of the glowing reviews for Born a Crime, I figured it would be a great choice for March’s Monthly Motif: Travel the World.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve read a different book than everybody else. Looking down the list of my friends’ reviews, nobody has gone lower than four stars. The majority (well over 75%) are five-star ratings. Even scrolling down the first page of Goodreads reviews, every review is glowing except for one. I didn’t hate this book — I didn’t even dislike it — but saying that I really connected with it or really enjoyed it would be untrue. I learned things. I understand more about South Africa and apartheid than I did before I started reading. But I think I expected too much, and for that reason, I was disappointed.

While the book is fine, it’s not what I expected. The pacing can be uneven, there are some repetitive sections, and the chapters don’t go in chronological order, which can be a little confusing. One minute, Trevor’s an adult, and the next, he’s nine years old again. Still, he’s led an interesting and impressive life and I’m happy to have read about it.

I find that, in general, I prefer to listen to memoirs rather than reading them. It gets the emotion and true meaning of the words across better than words on a page. I think I would have enjoyed this one more on audio.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

#mm18: travel the world