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Summary of Born a Crime 

Short summary

We have no choice over the circumstances we are born into. Growing up, we learn how to deal with them. “Born a Crime” is a coming-of-age memoir by Trevor Noah, a renowned South African comedian, writer, political commentator, and actor, to name a few of his occupations. In 2015, Trevor was chosen a host of The Daily Show and will remain in this position until 2022. He has also won 9 Primetime Emmy Awards in different nominations. Trevor owes such versatility to the very circumstances that formed his identity. Trevor’s very birth was a criminal act, as the law prohibited unions between white people and people of color. Too pale to be Black, too dark-skinned to pass for a White kid, Trevor had to do everything to blend in. He mastered several languages for that same purpose. And he learned to hate himself before he knew who he was. Circumstances shape but don’t define us. With us, the final word rests, and Trevor Noah is the true embodiment of that.

Key points


We don’t choose to be born, but we become who we choose

Coming-of-age narratives reflect the utmost vulnerability each of us encounters in a lifetime. Transitioning from childhood to adolescence is a complicated process with all the hormonal changes our bodies undergo. Things become even more difficult when we start interacting with different kinds of people who shape our identity.

Subconsciously, we all still want to be a part of a tribe, a symbolic one. It means that as human beings, we cannot exist separately from other people. We seek common interests and try to stick to common beliefs and value systems. But it doesn't mean that we won't get rejected if most tribespeople deem us not suitable to fit in.
Human nature manifests in the sense of belonging. When we feel rejected, we rebel.
Trevor Noah's early and teenage years were quite challenging. A mix of races, cultures, and languages, he was predestined to ostracism. It might sound romantic in a cosmopolitan city like New York, but not in the '90s Johannesburg, where he constantly felt threatened by the hostile environment that rejected anything slightly different.

In this summary, you will read about the first time Trevor realized who he was in the face of the unexpected danger and how he learned to pretend to blend in. Also, you will meet his parents, an unlikely couple. The relationship with his mother will shed some light on how the author turned out to be so covertly rebellious and extremely flexible in all life's situations.

“The Hollywood Reporter” named Trevor Noah one of “The 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media” two years in a row (2017, 2018), and in 2018, according to “Time” magazine, he was one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

“Born a Crime” is a witty and heartwarming memoir that gives hope to grateful readers.

Act 1: 9-year-old Trevor learns to worship God and jump from a moving car

The Sunday Trevor got tossed out of a moving car began like any other Sunday; the three of them — Trevor, baby Andrew, and Patricia — were in a car, ready to drive off to church, but the car wouldn’t start. Trevor’s mother, Patricia, realized they would have to catch the minibus, but that option didn’t seem very appealing to her. Changing minibusses to visit all the churches in the area was a tiresome experience for a 9-year-old. By 9 o’clock, Trevor was feeling exhausted because there was no minibus coming their way, so Patricia decided to hitchhike. A few moments later, a car picked them up. Little did they manage to drive off that a minibus veered straight in front of the vehicle.
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Act 2: Patricia and Robert, an unlikely couple, meet to become Trevor’s parents


Act 3: Trevor becomes a polyglot


Act 4: Sobbing boys are much alike


Act 5: Trevor is now popular because he is unique


Act 6: Patricia’s tough love



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