Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Title: Born a Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Trevor Noah until I read this book. Most people know him as the host of The Daily Show, but I don’t really watch much TV, and so I hadn’t even heard his name when his book was chosen, along with Dreams in a Time of War by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o for my monthly bookclub. But I’m really glad that I was led to this book and had the chance to read it and get to know a bit about this guy.

Trevor Noah was born in South Africa in 1984, during a time when interracial unions were a crime punishable with significant jail time. His mother was a black Xhosa woman, and his father a white Swiss man. So you can see where the title Born a Crime came from.

I think it was somewhat inevitable that Trevor Noah would grow up with an exceptional sense of humour after the things he had to live through as a kid. He couldn’t even go out and about with his own mother because the colour of his skin would reveal the crime that his mother and father had committed! Continue reading

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Dreams in a Time of War by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Title: Dreams in a Time of War
Author: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

I was glad that this book was chosen along with Born a Crime by Trevor No6716861ah for my monthly bookclub. I haven’t read many books about Africa or by African authors, and I haven’t traveled to that part of the world at all, and I think reading books like these is one of the best ways to learn about the history of different parts of the world.

Thiong’o’s childhood memoir certainly didn’t disappoint me. He grew up in Kenya in the ’40s and ’50s, which was a time of intense turmoil in that country. This book is a collection of the author’s recollections from early childhood right up to the time he leaves for high school. He is a wonderful storyteller, and he expertly weaves in history “lessons” and interesting, engaging stories.

The anecdotes are told mostly from the point of view of the child that the author was when the events happened. I think this lends a charming perspective to the story, and it lets the reader do a bit of their own thinking about what went on. Now I really want to read some more of Thiong’o’s works to see if and how his perspective changed as he grew up and moved to the western world.

I would also love to know more about Thiong’o’s mother, and I wonder if any of his other books go into more detail about her. She is a strong woman. She was kicked out by her husband, basically because her livestock and agriculture were doing better than his at a time when he was down and out. At the same time, she had two sons fighting on opposite sides of a horrible war. And all the while, she encourages Ngũgĩ to always do his best. You get the feeling that she doesn’t even really have a goalpost against which to measure his achievements, because every time he tells her about something she replies with “But is that the best you could have done?” even when he gets into the prestigious high school. Nonetheless, he is inspired and encouraged by her throughout his childhood.

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

Title: The Reason You Walk
Author: Wab Kinew

My Rating: ♥♥♥

The Reason You WalkI read The Reason You Walk to discuss at my monthly bookclub. We choose two books per month, and this month it was this one by Wab Kinew together with The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire (click the link to see my review of that one).

I was busy trying to read as many books as I could from the CBC Canada Reads 2017 Longlist, and so I didn’t get around to starting this one until a couple of days before the bookclub meeting. Luckily, I found it to be a pretty quick read. Continue reading

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

The Light Between OceansSPOILER ALERT: I found it impossible to write this review without giving away some aspects of the story that might be spoilers. You’ve been warned.

I first heard of M. L. Stedman’s novel The Light Between Oceans when the movie came out. I was busy at the time and missed the film, but then my book club announced that we’d be reading this book for January, so I decided it was my chance to get to know this story.

Tom Sherbourne has served in World War 1, and, back in Australia, he starts working at various lighthouses. He is posted to Janus Island, a remote rock in the middle of nowhere out in the ocean. It’s while he’s in a nearby town that he meets his future wife, Isabel, a joyful and somewhat naiive country girl.

They have a peaceful and private life on Janus, but their happy marriage is overshadowed by Isabel’s multiple miscarriages. They so want to start a family together, but unfortunately they have 3 miscarriages in a row. Then a mysterious boat with a dead guy and a little baby girl washes up, and their lives take a dramatic change… Continue reading

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Title: The Children Act
Author: Ian McEwan

My Rating: ♥♥♥

The Children ActThe Children Act was the first book by Ian McEwan that I’ve read. I often see people reading his books on the subway and out and about, so I was happy that my book club assigned this one for our next meeting.

Fiona Maye is an almost-sixty-year-old judge in the family court. She has a dry and professional air about her, including when her husband decides to ask for an open marriage. While her marriage is crumbling around her, she throws herself into her work on a particularly difficult case of a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness boy who is refusing a life-saving blood transfusion. Continue reading