Friday, July 05, 2019

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Delacorte Books for Young Readers (April 9, 2019)
Public Library Copy

The author was born in South Africa in 1984. His mother had a difficult, impoverished childhood but managed to get secretarial training at a time when South African businesses were being pressured to have Black employees in more professional jobs. She managed to live in areas where only white people were allowed to live legally. She met Noah's father in her apartment building. He was Swiss, so did not particularly care that it was illegal for blacks and whites to have relationships. The crime of the title stems from this; while there were colored people (who were both black and white) who held a certain place in society, it was rare to have someone who had one white and one black parent. Trevor was not allowed to associate with his father in public, and it was even dicey for him to claim his mother, since he was light skinned and she was not. His grandmother didn't even like him to go outside when he visited her house!

Descriptions of things like these is why this is an important book for US students to read. While we still have a long way to go to achieve racial equality, we do not have the level of prejudice and racial violence that the author saw growing up. There are stories of bus trips gone wrong, descriptions of the places he and his mother had to live, and the tale of his step father, Abel, who shot his mother. What was most alarming to me was that Noah had a fairly privileged childhood in some respects. He had supportive family who were in good health, got an education, and had places to live and food to eat. There is an upcoming book Krone's Small Mercies (Catalyst Press, March 2020) that shows an even harder South African Childhood.

Apparently the author is on a television program, The Daily Show. I'm not sure if this will make this book more popular, but I will purchase it because I am always looking for books that show what daily life is like in other countries. It's always good to keep our own lives in perspective!
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. He took over The Daily Show when Jon Stewart retired. He's hilarious but also so smart. He often has clips off the cuff and completely unscripted that are both funny and insightful like when he picked up his little brother after school and his little brother's friends were confused why Trevor was light skinned and his little brother was dark skinned. His little brother used an analogy with Nestle chocolate to explain to his friends.