The book is a memoir by Trevor Noah. It starts with a description of his mother's life in South Africa during apartheid. During the apartheid regime, black Africans were severely limited with regard to job and educational prospects, and were segregated into areas where white South Africans did not live. These segregated areas generally received fewer services and, because of the sanctioned discrimination, were poorer.
However, the white South Africans needed black South Africans to perform service jobs in white areas, giving black South Africans the ability to temporarily enter these enclaves. Residing in these brutally segregated enclaves was not usually permitted. Trevor's mother flouted the rules and intentionally becomes pregnant with Trevor. His father is a German national who did not marry Trevor's mother. Since interracial relationships were not allowed in South Africa under apartheid, Trevor's very existence is evidence of a crime because he is clearly biracial.
After his birth the book describes the difficulties encountered by Trevor's mother and grandmother in caring for a biracial child in South Africa. The book also deals with issues related to the hardships suffered by black South Africans and emphasizes the importance of Christianity and patriarchal values in the country. After apartheid ends, the book describes the continuing difficulties faced by black South Africans.