An Adventurous Childhood

An African-American Coming of Age Story in New Bern, North Carolina

Non-Fiction - Memoir
224 Pages
Reviewed on 07/14/2019
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Author Biography

For all those timid third generation teens who shed doubt on the childhood stories of their first generation relatives…

Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, this memoir is a collection of real life short stories chronicling events in my life from birth through high school graduation. While my recollection was challenged in a few instances, the characters and incidents are real and about 97% accurate. I don’t think kids grow up with much confidence, so in reading these stories, I hope you feel the apprehension, concern, confusion and indecision I experienced when trying to put them into words. If so, then it should be an enjoyable read.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

An Adventurous Childhood: An African-American Coming of Age Story in New Bern, North Carolina is a nonfiction memoir written by Malcolm Elliott. The author and his family moved three times as he was growing up: from Queen Street to Jones Street to First Street, where he attended middle and high school, and Craven Terrace, where he finished school. While they lived on Queen Street, his mom and siblings shared the house with the author’s grandmother and his Uncle James. His mom, being the sole support for her kids, worked full-time, meaning much of his early life was spent in the care of his grandmother, a woman he remembers for her sweet tooth and her propensity to blame him for his younger brother Michael's antics. Each move meant new experiences and new opportunities to make friends.

An Adventurous Childhood is an engaging and well-written look back at a time before the internet, when kids had adventures within their own neighborhoods. I loved reading about his fishing trips, sharing in his reminiscences of each neighborhood they lived in, and reliving his discovery of the money pile. Elliott also eloquently addresses segregation and its impact on his educational opportunities. His memoir is very much a coming of age tale, complete with sibling rivalry, girls, and the wonder of growing up. Elliott's memoirs are sheer pleasure to read. An Adventurous Childhood: An African-American Coming of Age Story in New Bern, North Carolina is most highly recommended.

Vernita Naylor

What is a memoir? It is a historical account of one's life or of a specific subject matter. Malcolm Elliott shares his memoir in An Adventurous Childhood: An African-American Coming of Age Story in New Bern, North Carolina. This book displays the highs and lows of not only life from childhood to high school in eastern North Carolina but also how our environment can affect our lives. The reader will be able to grasp the author's emotions of hurt and confusion of living in the South and having to frequently move to accommodate a growing family with eight children, including himself, with his single hard-working mother. In this book, the reader will learn about eastern North Carolina from fishing, which is an essential sport in the area, to desegregation which offered good and bad opportunities.

I found this book interesting because it is important to read how the evolution of life occurs and its effects. Children and teens should read this book because it helps to see how everything worked to shape Malcolm's view of himself, his family, especially his mother, and the world around him. It is essential that young people see this correlation in their lives as well. To be able to travel in time as Malcolm moves from Queens Street, Jones Street and First Street to Craven Terrace was intriguing. I'm sure that the reader will be able to see themselves in some of these short story accounts. Nothing is wasted; everything that occurred in Malcolm's life can be considered beneficial on his journey. What about your journey? If you like memoirs or autobiographical books, check out this one.

Deborah Lloyd

Several themes – family bonds; the homes and neighborhoods where they lived; school life for a young African-American male; desegregation; coming of age challenges - comprise this compelling memoir. The author, one of eight children of single mother Ruth, shares true stories from his childhood and adolescent years. His mother had a good job with the New Bern Police Department, and she was able to provide for the family’s basic needs. The children learned to be creative in play, making their own toys and devising games. Malcolm was able to do odd jobs and started working during the summers at age 14 through the Neighborhood Youth Corps. His school life was also affected by desegregation, with both positive and negative experiences. In An Adventurous Childhood: An African-American Coming of Age Story in New Bern, North Carolina, written by Malcolm Elliott, a thought-provoking perspective is detailed.

The true stories that Malcolm chose to share illuminate many aspects of growing up as an African-American male. Although faced with many challenges, he learned to take advantage of opportunities that came his way and grew in abilities and confidence. Relationships with the opposite sex during adolescence added another realistic aspect of coming of age. The book is written in a flowing, easy-to-read manner. The characters are well-described and easy to visualize. Although the storytelling leans towards the factual details, there is a subtle, underlying emotional tone. Author Malcolm Elliott has crafted an unforgettable memoir in An Adventurous Childhood: An African-American Coming of Age Story in New Bern, North Carolina.

Barry M. Milteer

I've read this book and found it surprisingly refreshing.

Darlene B. on

I was hooked by this book from the first page as I am very familiar with the town that the author grew up in. It brought back memories of my own childhood there in great detail. I got to know the author as an adult but have no doubt that it would have been well worth my time to have known him as well in childhood. The stories put you right in the middle of what is happening at the time. When a storyteller can make you feel the rain pouring down or the waves lapping the shore it is a sign of a good story teller. I can't wait for part 2.

Gina B. on

Mr. Elliott writes in a manner in which he provides the reader with an ability to visually capture each scene depicted and identify with his character, regardless of gender. His reflections parallel many of the plights endured by African American children growing up in this country, to include healthy self-identification, and the establishment of positive peer affiliations. As a collector of regional autobiographies, I would endorse this book as required reading for all high school seniors in the state of North Carolina.

Rosalyn on

This memoir delivers riveting tales of Malcolm Elliott’s personal accounts of his childhood and challenges as an African-American male coming of age, in a small town in North Carolina. Each chapter is filled with adventurous short stories that takes the reader on an unexpected journey filled with childhood memories, humor, friendship, and personal success as seen through the author’s eyes. The tone of the book is charming; and Elliott’s talent for vividly portraying his early childhood experiences is ingenious. He will capture the reader’s attention from start to end. The book is an excellent example of how great storytelling can inspire others as to how important it is to recapture the essences of childhood memories before they are lost forever.