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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Michael Gordon Bennett's 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid is a non-fiction memoir. Bennett's parents were teenagers when he was born, and his dad decided to join the armed forces to make sure he could provide for his family. The author's first real memories are of those years the family spent in Madrid, Spain, while his dad was stationed at Torrejon Air Base. Spain was sunny and warm, and the culture was welcoming and felt like home. A little over two years later, his dad's assignment to Loring Air Force Base had the family getting accustomed to the frigid temps and natural beauty of life in the far northern reaches of Maine. While the struggles for civil rights churned in most of the United States, those early years in Bennett's life were largely spent apart from it all. The march on Washington and the assassinations of JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King were viewed, as it were, from a distance. It wasn't until his dad served in Vietnam, and the family went to live in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that the author noticed the differences between the sheltered predominantly white existence he had been part of and that experienced by many in the black community. And later on, after his father returned from Vietnam and the family moved to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Bennett began to realize even more so the challenges faced by black people living in the Deep South.
Michael Gordon Bennett's non-fiction memoir, 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid, is not fiction, but it reads as fluidly as good fiction does. I was instantly swept up in the author's world as he and his family moved from Spain to Maine and then from Florida to Colorado. I marveled at his descriptions of the church services he attended with his grandparents in Atlantic City and closed my eyes at one point, picturing in my mind the joyous service he described. I was also quite overwhelmed when, as a young teen, he won his school’s award for combined academic achievement and athletic excellence. This is a grand tapestry of a tale, a triumphant story of a young man's dedication, hard work and perseverance set amongst the backdrop of the racial injustice that persists in this country to this day. This coming of age story is remarkable; Bennett's stories about the mentors who helped him along his way and the triumphs of the group he was, albeit briefly, a part of at Tyndall are memories I won't be forgetting anytime soon. If you read one memoir this year, read 7-10 Split: My Journey As America's Whitest Black Kid; it's most highly recommended.