10 Brilliant Things about Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

by Trevor Noah

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: Literally born a crime, Trevor Noah explores his upbringing living in South Africa during apartheid. Being colored he never seems to fit in, Trevor is too black to be white and too white to be black. His coming of age story is touching, full of hardships and yet, unbelievably hilarious as Trevor Noah uses humor to remain resilient and portray the absurdity that humans can partake in.

10 Brilliant Things about Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Hilarious

“Born a Crime” was hilarious, like laugh-out-loud funny! Even though the book deals with some very heavy topics, Trevor Noah uses his humor effectively and allows the reader to really grasp the absurdity that can be life.

2. Honesty

One of the most effective things about “Born a Crime” is the brutal honesty Noah has. He doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat things or only portray his loved ones in a positive light. He is real, genuine, and straightforward no matter if it is good or bad.

3. South Africa

Learning about a different culture and place in the world is always worthwhile. Obviously with Trevor Noah being born and raised in South Africa, this is where “Born a Crime” takes place and while Noah is just a single person from this country, he does a great job of showing some of the country’s diversity and difference amongst its people.

4. Racism

Probably the most important subject in “Born a Crime” is that of racism. While one might assume that racism wouldn’t exist in a country that is majority black, colonialism has influenced all of Africa and has created huge discrepancies between races. These negative influences continue to have an impact today as Noah shows throughout his book.

5. Not Fitting In

While not many of us could claim they understand what it is like to be a colored kid growing up in apartheid South Africa, I think most people can relate to feeling like they don’t fit in. Noah paints such a powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of the hurt, confusion, and desire of wanting to belong.

6. Love

Throughout “Born a Crime” the reader can truly sense and feel the deep love and respect Trevor has for his mother and the unconditional love that his mother has for him. It is absolutely beautiful and resonates throughout the novel.

7. Shit

Intellectual and profound in many ways, Trevor is constantly reminding the reader that we are all just human, no better, no less, and the most memorable and hilarious way he reminds us of this is through his comments on shitting:

“It’s a powerful experience, shitting. There’s something magical about it, profound even. I think God made humans shit in the way we do because it brings us back down to earth and gives us humility. I don’t care who you are, we all shit the same. Beyoncé shits. The pope shits. The Queen of England shits. When we shit we forget our airs and our graces, we forget how famous or how rick we are. All of that goes away.”

8. Perseverance

Overcoming poverty, racism, and a bad childhood is never an easy endeavor. Coming back from being shot in the head seems nearly impossible and yet, these are the stories that Trevor Noah shares. The perseverance that him and his family have shown and continue to show is inspirational and leaves an overall sense of hope that is much needed in a world that is rampant with poverty, racism, abuse, violence, addiction, hatred, and ignorance.

9. Writing

Overall, “Born a Crime” was written well and a relatively quick read. Without sounding like a boring history book, Noah gave pertinent facts needed for readers to understand context and continued using humor and wit to bring light into some very dark situations.

10. Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a fantastic comedian and while I am unsure if he will ever write another book in the future at least we can enjoy him on “The Daily Show.”

What were your favorite things about “Born a Crime”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Welcome Things about Philip Gourevitch’s “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families”

We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda

by Philip Gourevitch

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: With devastating clarity, thorough research, and extensive interviews of survivors, Philip Gourevitch investigates the horrors that occurred in Rwanda during 1994. In just three months starting in April 1994, 800,000 Tutsis were killed by the Hutu majority. Unbelievably, it was not simply soldiers or government agents but neighbors, friends, and family members of the Tutsis who participated in the mass genocide. Gourevitch examines not just what led up to the genocide but the aftermath for Rwanda, its people, and the world.

10 Welcome Things about Philip Gourevitch’s “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

“We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families” should be required reading in school, this book has so much educational worth! One of the most important educational piece that Gourevitch includes is the role that colonialism and Western interference had that helped pave the path for the Rwanda genocide.

2. Well Researched

Gourevitch meticulously researched other works on Rwanda in order to write this novel. While his sources are not listed in a reference list, he does include the authors of the works he used in his acknowledgments.

3. Personal Interviews

The most powerful and effective aspects of “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families” are the personal stories. Speaking with hundreds of Rwandans, Gourevitch weaves their stories throughout this book and it allows the reader to really understand that these atrocities happened to individual people, it is not a tale of fiction but rather the reality for thousands of Rwandans.

4. Failure of the World

In a perfectly summarized sentence Gourevitch states,

“If Rwanda’s experience could be said to carry any lessons for the world, it was that endangered peoples who depend on the international community for physical protection stand defenseless.”

In so many ways, the international community failed epically and Gourevitch shows this time and time again throughout the novel.

5. Consequences

Returning to Rwanda in 1997, Gourevitch looks at how Rwanda has continued on since the genocide. He realizes that the genocide is not just an isolated event but one that will have continued consequences for years to come. And while the rest of the world had moved on, Rwanda had not and even 4 years later ethnic killings continued weekly with no end in sight.

6. Vivid

This novel is so vivid and haunting. Descriptions are plentiful and really capture the scenes Gourevitch is painting. There are moving scenes that will be imprinted in the minds of readers forever.

7. Writing

While reading Gourevitch’s novel, it is apparent that he went to great lengths to give as much information as possible while not losing the reader. He writes in a fluid, engaging manner that allows the reader to know dates, facts, and names without being read like a dry history textbook.

8. Courage

While Philip Gourevitch is one of many reporters who have braved visiting a dangerous area in order to get the facts, it doesn’t make it any less impressive. Gourevitch had the courage to not only do the story but to visit Rwanda multiple times and to travel to different areas in the region regardless of the hazards to himself.

9. Outsider

Regardless of Gourevitch visiting Rwanda, interviewing hundreds of its people, and doing extensive research, Gourevitch humbly acknowledges that he is an outsider. He comprehends that no amount of visitations or education of Rwanda will allow him to understand the country, its politics, or people fully. He could never truly grasp what it means to be Rwandan, he is and will always be an outsider looking in.

10. Powerful

Ultimately, “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families” is a powerful novel. It truly paints the picture of what humanity is capable of, the horrors we commit against one another but also the beauty in our resiliency and bravery to survive and help each other in times of adversity. The book ends on a hopeful note of a group of schoolgirls refusing to separate based on being Hutu or Tutsi but rather said they were simply Rwandans.

What are your favorite things about “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Familes?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

6 Knowledgeable Things about Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”

King Leopold’s Ghost

by Adam Hochschild

Nikki’s Rating: 6 out of 10

Summary: A meticulously researched book focused on the exploitation of the Congo by King Leopold. A detailed account of key players and how abuse and slavery were able to continue for years with the world none the wiser. An honest, disturbing look at how colonialism continues to negatively impact the world today.

6 Knowledgeable Things about Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

This book was a huge eye-opener. Nowhere in any formal education was there mention of the massacre that happened in the Congo, or anywhere else in Africa, due to colonialism. As in everywhere else in history, the victors write the history books and conveniently omit any negative images of themselves.

2. Citing Sources

Hochschild did his research diligently. His pages of notes and bibliography provide ample evidence and support of his narrative of what happened in the Congo under King Leopold’s rule.

3. Characters

In “King Leopold’s Ghost,” Hochschild does an amazing job of bringing his historical characters to life. He includes key life events to help readers understand their motivations and values that may have impacted their decisions. However, there is a lack of African voices and Hochschild makes note of this and gives valid reasons why this is so.

4. The Atrocities

While not giving traumatizing details, Hochschild clearly paints a picture of the horror many Congolese people experienced at the hands of their European suppressors. From forced slavery in terrible conditions to being used as target practice, King Leopold encouraged a holocaust in the name of greed.

5. Silence

“King Leopold’s Ghost” includes an explanation of how these atrocities were not made public and how King Leopold was able to manipulate others in power and the media to keep the silence of the massacre that was occurring.

6. Impact

One of the strongest points Hochschild presents in “King Leopold’s Ghost” is how colonialism continues to have an impact in the Congo today. Due to American and European investments, these governments continue interfering with democracy in the Congo going so far as in 1961, providing the means to assassinate Lumumba, an elected prime minister.

What are your favorite things about “King Leopold’s Ghost”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child

by Nancy Verrier

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: A book meant for anyone involved in adoption, “The Primal Wound” explores the trauma that all adoptees experience through the process of adoption. With emphasize on the adoptee’s experience, Verrier provides information on how best adoptive parents, biological parents, and the adult adoptee can help themselves and heal from this trauma.


10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Adoption

Even though 6 out of 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption (themselves or close family/friend has adopted a child or put up a child for adoption), adoption is not an openly discussed topic. Verrier shares new insight and knowledge on this stigmatized subject.

2. Nancy Verrier

The author of “The Primal Wound”, Nancy Verrier is an adoptive mother and it was her personal experience with her adopted daughter that brought her to doing research on adoption and the trauma that occurs. Personal experience brings so much more substance and Verrier is able to provide a wealth of knowledge because of this.

3. Adoption Triad

“The Primal Wound” addresses the whole adoption triad: the adopted child, the biological mother, and the adoptive mother. It is written in a way that any individual in the role of the adoption triad should be able to understand and empathize with another role in the triad.

4. No Blame

Verrier makes a point to stress multiple times in “The Primal Wound” that the biological mother is not to blame for the trauma experienced by adoptees. Instead, she points to society as a whole for lacking resources that could have been available so that she could have kept her child. Improper treatment of drug addiction and/or mental health, poverty, unaffordable childcare, lack of sexual education, etc. are issues that many women face that may contribute to placing their child up for adoption.

5. References

Verrier meticulously cites multiple references and sources throughout “The Primal Wound” providing credence to her work and theories.

6. Validating

As an adoptee, “The Primal Wound” was so validating. A must-read for any adoptee, adoptive parent, or biological parent of an adopted child!

7. Suggested Reading

A super helpful list of other books is listed at the end of “The Primal Wound” to help readers further explore their interest in adoption and/or issues that may arise from being part of the adoption triad.

8. Issues

“The Primal Wound” does an amazing job of presenting all the issues and challenges people can experience if they are part of an adoption triad, especially for the adoptee. Self-esteem, attachment styles, intimacy problems, guilt, mourning, etc are all addressed.

9. Solutions

Not only does Verrier present the multiple issues that may arise from the experience of adoption, she also makes suggestions on how to solve some of these issues, especially by going to therapy.

10. The Writing

While “The Primal Wound” is a wealth of information, it never seems overwhelming or confusing. Verrier presents her supported theories clearly and includes her own personal experiences or those of people she interviewed to provide examples.

What are your favorite things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

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