Rummanah Aasi

Description: 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.

Review: Trevor Noah, the host for The Daily Show, brings his sharp wit and analysis when talking about his childhood as a mixed-race individual in South Africa under the tyranny of apartheid. Initially I thought the title of Noah's memoir was tongue in cheek, but then I discovered that he means it literally. Born from a black South African mother and a white Swiss German diplomat, where sex between races was strictly forbidden and a crime. Thus Noah is born of a crime.
  In eighteen poignant, humorous, and incisive essays, Noah takes the reader along a personal journey of life inside South Africa. Due to the color of his skin and fear of being taken away, Noah spent much of his childhood alone and inside though it did not stop him from being mischievous and causing havoc in his family. Noah also mentions the many times he had to endure hunger, homelessness, violence, and racism. Though he never felt like he belonged or found his group, Noah became a chameleon inside by learning many of the languages spoken of South Africa. He lovingly describes his religious, courageous, and rebellious mother who kept him grounded and instilled valuable lessons.
  While the tone of the book is humorous both from tales of Noah's own coming of age stories of embarrassment, it is leveled at the severity of institutionalized racism, domestic abuse, and deepens our understanding of social constructs such as race, gender, and class. I found Noah's book to be eye opening since many American social studies classes do not cover the apartheid in South Africa is their curriculum and if they do it is generally glossed over. Readers who have a firmer grasp on South African politics would get much more out of Noah's memoir, but it is a wonderful memoir to read independently too.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language throughout the book, mentions of domestic abuse and attempted rape. Recommended for older teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
3 Responses
  1. I found this book entertaining, informative, interesting, and crazy all at the same time. He is such a good story teller.

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