Book Review: Kid on the Go!: Memoir of My Childhood and Youth, by Neill McKee

By Katherine Itacy

Genre(s): Memoir

Summary (as provided by author):

In this new book, McKee takes readers on a journey through his childhood, adolescence, and teenage years from the mid-40s to the mid-60s, in the small, then industrially-polluted town of Elmira, Ontario, Canada—one of the centers of production for Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. 

McKee’s vivid descriptions, dialog, and self-drawn illustrations are a study of how a young boy learned to play and work, fish and hunt, avoid dangers, cope with death, deal with bullies, and to build or restore “escape” vehicles. You may laugh out loud as the author recalls his exploding hormones, attraction to girls, rebellion against authority, and survival of 1960s’ “rock & roll” culture—emerging on the other side as a youth leader. 

After leaving Elmira, McKee describes his intensely searching university years, trying to decide which career path to follow.

Except for a revealing postscript, the story ends when he accepts a volunteer teaching position on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia.

Review:

As the book summary notes, Kid on the Go! focuses on Mr. McKee’s childhood, adolescence, and college years in Canada. He is the third-born of seven children and is born in Elmira, Ontario just a few months after World War II ends.

The book details McKee’s life growing up in a small town, surrounded by the smells of factories, farms, a chemical plant, and a slaughterhouse. He tells of childhood adventures exploring, hunting, fishing, camping, and vacationing in various locations throughout Canada.

As he matures, he starts to take school more seriously and works hard at his father’s farm equipment factory and the company’s farm after school and during the summer.

I found the book to be an easy read and the author quite charming. At the risk of sounding condescending, I found his stories almost quaint in the book’s retelling. Kid on the Go! is reminiscent of a time in which children were allowed and relatively safe to explore their surroundings and spend countless unsupervised hours outdoors.

While I typically look for more depth and introspection in the memoirs I read, I certainly found McKee’s third work of creative nonfiction to be enjoyable and entertaining. It is well written and perfectly lovely.

My Rating: 3/5

About the Author (as provided by author):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has written and published three books in this genre since 2015. His latest work is Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth, a humorous and poignant account of his growing up in an industrially-polluted town in Ontario, Canada, and his university years. This memoir is a stand-alone prequel to his first travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah (2019) on his first overseas adventures in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo), where he served as a Canadian volunteer teacher and program administrator during 1968-70 and 1973-74. This book won the 2019 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Biography–(other than a New Mexico/Arizona subject) and a Bronze Medal in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards (Ippy Awards). 

In late 2020, McKee also released Guns and Gods in my Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower—an entertaining account of how he searched for his roots in Canada and the US, in which he employs vivid descriptions, dialog, poetic prose, analytical opinion, photos and illustrations. In this work, McKee slowly uncovers his American grandmother’s lineage—ancestors who were involved in almost every major war on North American soil and others, including a passenger on the Mayflower, as well as heroes, villains, rascals, and ordinary godly folk. Through his search, McKee exposes myths and uncovers facts about the true founding of America.

McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Russia and traveled to over 80 countries on assignments during his 45-year international career. He became an expert in communication and directed/produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, and wrote a many articles and books in the field. McKee is now busy writing another travel memoir on his career. He does readings/book signings and presentations with or without photos. He prefers lively interactive sessions.

Follow the author online at:

Author’s website: www.neillmckeeauthor.com

Kid on the Go! book page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/kid-on-the-go

Kid on the go! buy page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/buy-3

Author’s digital library: www.neillmckeevideos.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McKeeNeill/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MckeeNeill

NBFS: www.northborneofrodotolkien.org

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Mr. McKee’s book, Kid on the Go!, from the author himself in exchange for my honest review of the book. My review is one of many being posted as part of a WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour.

Katherine Itacy is the author of Relentless: From National Champion to Physically Disabled Activist (July 28, 2020, E.L. Marker). After medically retiring from practicing law, Katherine wrote her memoir, Relentless (which is available now in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon), and started “The Phunky Diabetic Podcast”(which is available to stream on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and YouTube). She is also on the board of directors for the Rhode Island ACLU, an advocate for the Rare Disease Legislative Advocates (RDLA), a patient advisor for the All of Us Patient & Family Advisory Council (PFAC), a volunteer for the Beyond Type One organization, and enjoys blogging about social justice and disability issues.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s