Trevor Noah book review and summary

Trevor Noah book review and summary

Trevor Noah is very well-known as a stand-up comedian. In recent times, his role as the host of the late-night show on Comedy Central called The Daily Show surely thrust him to a wider audience than before. In 2016, Trevor published and released his book, “Born a Crime” that hinges on his stand-up style of message delivery, but his accounts here are raw and personal. The Trevor Noah book should be a good read, especially if you want an in-depth understanding of the apartheid era through the eyes of a person whose birth violated every rule on the land.

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This memoir is not only an account of the harrowing experiences of growing up in an apartheid country, but also a carefully written love letter to Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah – Trevor Noah’s mother. If you opt for the Born a Crime audiobook, you’ll still find the book to be a masterpiece. The blow by blow accounts and detailed stories in the book are sufficient in painting a picture of Noah’s shaky childhood.

Trevor Noah's book summary

Trevor Noah Born a Crime was and is still a moving memoir. It’s no surprise that the book earned him a spot on the Top 100 Influential People in 2018 on Time Magazine. Just by reading the Lupita Nyong’o’s excerpt about Trevor on Time, it is clear that the book is such an inspiration.

Besides the Trevor Noah time magazine appearance, his barrier-breaking chance to host The Daily Show has played a huge role in popularizing the book. As a side note, there's an upcoming new Trevor Noah stand-up act called Son of Patricia.

On picking up the book for the first time, some of the stories, although harrowing, may be familiar if you’ve been following this South African comedian’s stand-up acts. A few pages into the book and one will quickly have a gist of how difficult it was to be half-white, half-black. A person’s skin colour could determine whether they survive or not.

Trevor reveals that his father was a Swiss-German and his mother was from the Xhosa tribe in South Africa. Both his parents could not spend time with him outdoors because of his skin colour. At some point, Trevor’s mother had to drop him from a moving vehicle to save his life because the police had shown up, and she didn’t want them to find her with a light-skinned child.

If you’re reading the Trevor Noah book PDF format, you’ll find out that he spent a lot of time with his cousins and not with his friends. Throughout that time, he read a lot and learned different languages. These languages helped him to fit in in different environments. He perfected his English speaking skills since this language was a major success determinant.

Mr. Noah lived in the Soweto township, which was predominantly black. It wasn’t one of the best of places to live given the regular protests and police battles that always resulted in gunshots, teargas, and screams.

As he grew up, he picked some entrepreneurial skills from his mother, and by high school, he was already selling pirated CDs. Later on, he ventured into the D.J. business together with his business partners.

In an unwanted turn of events, Trevor’s mother married another man after Trevor’s father had moved to Cape Town. The stepfather turned out to be violent and controlling.

Although the book mostly revolves around Trevor Noah parents, it also gives us a glimpse into the Trevor Noah family, especially where he reminisces about the life of his mother. Having lived in a small hut with her 14 cousins, Trevor Noah’s mother was determined to give him the best in terms of education and skills. In doing so, she would have saved him from the burdens of the past generation.

You wouldn’t miss how the author paints his mother as very religious. She even attributes her survival from a gunshot from her second husband to her faith. She was also very determined to raise her children in the church.

In the end, you’ll get the sense of how Noah’s mother wanted her children to be free. The freedom of not being subjected to any past chains would allow them to explore the world.

Analysis of Trevor Noah book – Born a Crime

Right off the bat, this is a strikingly personal account of events. Although the memoir delves into the societal injustices that characterized the apartheid era, it doesn’t lose its direction as an appreciation and love letter to the author’s mother.

The account of how Noah’s mother had to pretend that he wasn’t her child in order to save his life is quite deep and touching, further showing how the book is personal.

Having been forced to stay without friends because of his skin colour is another perspective that touches on the author’s struggles that shaped in his personality and life in general.


Born a Crime is a good read, especially if you’re intrigued by personal stories. The story is centred around the life of Trevor Noah upbringing in an apartheid era hence the reason it truly qualifies as a classic memoir. Throughout the book, you’ll read about the author’s growth and the deep appreciation he has for his mother.



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