Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of Born A Crime.
I loved this section from the very first page. I was totally sucked into the story immediately. Did you feel the same way? The whole being thrown out of a moving car to avoid being killed thing was a pretty exciting way to start the narrative. Do you think you would have had the bravery that Noah's mother had to throw herself and her child out of a moving car? I think I would probably freeze up in fear.
Each chapter in this section talked about a different memory or experience in Noah's life, but the unifying element for each chapter was Noah's relationship with his mother. In the first chapter, the thing that stood out to me the most was how Noah described the way his mother would run after him. I thought it was really funny when he said that his mother would kick off her high heels without breaking her stride. And, I couldn't believe that after she stopped being able to catch him, she started calling him a thief, hoping others would help her catch him. I can't imagine what a sight they were running through the streets yelling at each other.
I thought it was interesting, also, when Noah noted that his mother said, "My job is to feed your body, feed your spirit, and feed your mind" (p. 71). She definitely showed the desire to feed his mind and spirit by giving him so many books and experiences. I loved at the very end of chapter 5 that she remarked, when people questioned why she would spend so much time teaching a black child about white things, "even if he never leaves the ghetto, he will know that the ghetto is not the world. If that is all I accomplish, I've done enough" (p. 74). She really worked so hard to provide so much for him. I was in awe of her throughout this first section. She really made the best of not great circumstances.
I definitely appreciated how much information about race and culture Noah packed into his own stories. Did you learn anything about Apartheid in this first section? One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that "colored" people were there own designation. It was illegal to be mixed, but it wasn't illegal to be "colored" if both parents were "colored." Did you find that interesting? The sections about religion were also very enlightening. Did you catch the part where Noah said that someone could be accused of using witchcraft to kill another person? He explains the concept by saying that if someone is struck by lightning and killed, someone else could be accused of using witchcraft to command the lightning to kill the first person. And later, after Noah goes to the bathroom instead of using the outhouse, his family thinks they have been attacked by a demon after they find his mess in the house. What did you make of those sections? Were you familiar enough with the culture that you already knew those things?
Language plays a big part in many of Noah's stories. He says that knowledge of many different languages allowed him to cross boundaries and get out of different situations. That one time, his knowledge of Zulu allowed him to turn the tables on the boys who were planning on mugging him. I didn't know that there were so many different languages in South Africa--I can imagine that all of those languages can really keep barriers up between people.
This section ends with Noah reuniting with his father after they drift apart for several years. I was really thankful that they were able to be reunited, and I was glad that it was a good reunion. I feel like I've read a lot of books that have really painful interactions with estranged family members, so I was nervous that Noah's dad wasn't going to be open or loving. Didn't you feel tender hearted when you read that his father had kept a scrapbook of all of Noah's career milestones? I think that was the most special part of that section for me.
This first section was so jam packed with information and stories that I definitely couldn't address it all. What favorite parts of yours did I not mention? What stood out to you the most? Are you excited to keep reading?
If you're interested to see a glimpse into the home and family Noah talks about in the early chapters, check out this video below in which he goes back to South Africa to interview his grandmother. I loved having a visual of some of the scenes he mentions. I hope you're able to watch the whole clip. Let me know what you liked best about it!
I hope you enjoyed reading this week and are excited to keep going. Remember to read the second section before joining us again next week! I can't wait to hear from you in the comments section!